UNHCR appeals to donor community to fund Support Platform for Afghan refugees, host communities

HARIPUR UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency on Wednesday called upon the donor community to mobilize funds for the Support Platform for Afghan refugees and host communities in Pakistan and Iran.

“The international community must make collective investments to support Afghan refugees and communities hosting them,” said the UNHCR Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, Mr. Indrika Ratwatte, during a visit to Panian refugee village in Haripur, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

UNHCR officials, together with high-level delegations from Belgium, France, Germany, Japan, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, the United States of America, the European Union as well as the NAMA Women Advancement Establishment of the United Arab Emirates, visited Haripur and interacted with three generations of Afghan refugees. At the refugee village, they listened to their stories that have spanned 40 years. They also noted their concerns.

In the Kalabat Township, the delegation visited a school and a vocational and technical training centre, both of which fall under the Refugee Affected and Hosting Areas (RAHA) programme. The RAHA programme channels additional investment into public institutions to support inclusive policies that benefit both host communities and refugees in Pakistan.

On the occasion, Ratwatte acknowledged and commended the people and Government of Pakistan for hosting Afghan refugees for over four decades. “The people of Pakistan deserve recognition for their compassion, hospitality and solidarity,” he said. However, he added that one country alone shouldn’t bear this responsibility and that the international community must come forward.

Ratwatte noted that it is imperative that the donor community fund the Support Platform for the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR), which was launched at the Global Refugee Forum in December 2019.

He added that the three objectives of the Support Platform for the SSAR consist of enhancing international solidarity and burden-sharing, promoting additional investments and expanding partnerships with a wide range of stakeholders, as well as increasing the visibility for the Afghan refugee situation. “In Pakistan, the support of donors will translate into concrete programmes and activities, particularly in the areas of health, education, and youth empowerment and livelihoods,” he said.

Some of the donor representatives expressed their resolve to continue supporting Afghan refugees. The Commissioner for Afghan Refugees in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mr. Abbas Khan, provided further information about the local reality that Afghan refugees face, and the impact of both humanitarian and development assistance. He lauded the generosity of donor countries and thanked UNHCR for carrying out activities that benefit both Pakistanis and Afghan refugees in Pakistan.