Pakistan to help Afghan refugees resettle at home
KABUL (Pajhwok): Pakistan’s Acting President Raza Rabbani on Wednesday assured his country’s full cooperation with the UN refugee body for the return and resettlement of Afghan refugees in Afghanistan.
Rabbani assured this during a meeting with visiting United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Antonio Gutterres in Islamabad, the Radio Pakistan reported.
Gutteres appreciated Pakistan’s services for hosting Afghan refugees in a good manner and also commended the Pakistan Army’s efforts in the ongoing Operation Zarb-e-Azb.
“Pakistan has adopted an effective strategy to combat terrorism,” he said. Gutteres also went on to say that Pakistani people demonstrated courage and patience in a “difficult situation”.
Gutteres requested Pakistan to review its December 31 deadline for the repatriation of more than three million Afghan refugees from the country after staying there for three decades.
On Monday, the opening day of his three-day visit to Pakistan, the UNHCR chief called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and also held talks with Prime Minister’s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.
He also held talks with the governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and visited the refugee camp in the northwestern province.
“Matters relating to Afghan refugees in Pakistan including their repatriation to their homeland came under discussion,” said an official statement from the prime minister’s house.
The prime minister said Pakistan took care of Afghan refugees as a sacred duty and their return with dignity is a priority for the government.
In a statement from the UNHCR, Gutteres expressed his appreciation and solidarity with the government and people of Pakistan for having generously hosted the world’s largest protracted refugee situation for nearly four decades.
He highlighted the important contribution Pakistan’s generosity had continued to make to regional stability, but also more broadly to the global refugee cause.
He and Pakistan SAFRON minister commended the ownership and commitment of the national unity government of Afghanistan, at the highest levels, on finding solutions to long-standing displacement issues.
They acknowledged the vision of President Ashraf Ghani to make Afghanistan the common home of all Afghans and to ensure that no Afghan is forced to live away from his home in the future.
They welcomed concrete steps taken to fulfill this resolve, such as the establishment of the National Refugee Commission under his auspices, and the commitment of the Ministry for Rural Rehabilitation and Development to enable access of returnees to rural and urban community infrastructures through the National Solidarity Programme.
The international community has long recognized that voluntary return and sustainable reintegration of Afghan refugees is critical for security and stability in the region and beyond.
As such, they stressed the need to seize the momentum in 2015 which, despite prevailing challenges, offers unprecedented opportunities for sustainable voluntary return and reintegration of Afghan refugees, within the framework of the Solutions Strategy for Afghan refugees (SSAR).
Against this background, they called on the international community to redouble their engagement in Afghanistan and support the efforts of the unity government at this critical juncture of its nation building and reconciliation processes.
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