UAE meeting on Afghan refugees rescheduled
KABUL (Pajhwok): The United Arab Emirates will host representatives from the UN, Pakistan and Iran next week to review pilot projects set up to encourage refugees to return to their homes from the neighbouring countries.
The four-party meeting was earlier scheduled to be held in Dubai on Friday, but delayed until next week due to some technical problems, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Refugee and Repatriation, Imamuddin Jurat, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
He said Afghan minister Jamahir Anwari at the head of a delegation, comprising a lawmaker and some foreign ministry officials, would attend the meeting.
High-ranking Pakistani and Iranian officials were expected to attend the meeting that would discuss in detail problems facing Afghan refugees in the two countries, he said.
A UNHCR official in Kabul Nadir Farhad confirmed to Pajhwok Afghan News the UAE meeting had been delayed until next week.
UNHCR representative in Islamabad Neill Wright said Afghan refugees in Pakistan were waiting to see what would be the situation in their home country later this year if it was the right to return.
“This is the largest voluntary repatriation of refugees anywhere in the world, so it’s important we continue to facilitate a solution.”
The displacement of Afghans has been described by the UN as the world’s largest and longest-standing refugee situation.
About 1.6 million refugees remain in Pakistan, the UNHCR estimates. Since 2002, nearly four million people have returned to Afghanistan with the UNHCR’s assistance.
During a three-day visit to the UAE, Wright will meet ministers and seek more support for the UN’s repatriation of Afghan refugees.
“The UAE Embassy in Islamabad regularly meets with us and we have donor conferences to show them what is happening on the ground,” he said.
“The UAE already do support the UNHCR’s work in helping refugees in Pakistan and the UAE has a bilateral arrangement to assist the needy in Pakistan.
Villages near Bamyan and Herat provinces have small-scale employment opportunities for women and lights provided by a hydro-electricity power plant.
The meeting in Dubai will focus on areas such as mining opportunities and providing agricultural land to returnees.
“There is huge competition among the returnees and the existing population for employment,” Wright said.
“The objective is to work together to help them reintegrate successfully. Investment at the village level would directly encourage refugees to think it’s time to voluntarily go back and restart their lives.”
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