UNHCR calls for int’l push to end Afghan refugee situation
KABUL (Pajhwok): The head of the UN refugee agency has called on the international community to redouble its engagement with Afghanistan to help bring an end to the world's largest protracted refugee situation.
In a statement on Friday, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres pointed out that reinvigorated and continued engagement was critical to support Afghanistan's nation building and reconciliation processes at a time of dwindling resources and expanding humanitarian needs worldwide.
"Robust development initiatives aimed at creating long-term incentives for durable return and conditions conducive for sustainable reintegration in Afghanistan are vital to create pull factors and allow for inclusion, participation and active contribution of returning Afghans, particularly the youth," he said while speaking at a joint press conference with Pakistan's Minister of States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch at the end of a three-day Ramadan solidarity mission to Pakistan.
The UN refugee chief noted the future of some 2.6 million Afghan refugees in the region, many of whom have been living outside their country for over three decades, still hung in the balance while fresh emergencies in the Middle East and Africa competed for global attention.
Praising Pakistan's goodwill and hospitality as a host nation, Guterres noted that "the unwavering generosity of Pakistani people towards Afghan refugees has contributed to regional stability but also more broadly to the global refugee cause at a time when we witness increased asylum fatigue worldwide."
However, Guterres stressed that 2015 was a pivotal year for Afghanistan, offering unprecedented opportunities to pursue innovative and lasting solutions for Afghan refugees in the region.
"Traditional approaches are no longer sufficient to fully capitalize on the potential for solutions in 2015 in view of prevailing challenges in Afghanistan … in an environment of shrinking humanitarian resources, it is vital to pursue innovative solutions and creative joint advocacy and resource mobilization," he added.
The High Commissioner said he was encouraged by the new national unity government of Afghanistan for their ownership and commitment to sustainable return and reintegration of refugees.
"It is critical that the international community steps up to support the Afghan government in their efforts to create adequate conditions for Afghans to return home and restart their lives in safety and dignity," he said.
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