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Solutions strategy for Afghan refugees extended

Solutions strategy for Afghan refugees extended

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Jun 18, 2019 - 10:33

PESHAWAR (Pajhwok): The Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR), a multi-year regional initiative, has been extended to 2021, officials say.

SSAR aims to help facilitate the voluntary return and sustainable reintegration of refugees, as well as providing assistance to host countries.

Afghan, Pakistani, Iranian and UN officials agreed on Monday to retain SSAR as a valid framework for identifying and implementing solutions for Afghan refugees.

At a meeting in Islamabad, the Quadripartite Steering Committee (Q-4) reiterated its call for joint advocacy and resource mobilisation to support the implementation of the strategy.

Chaired by Pakistaninfo-icon’s Minister for States and Frontier Regions Shehryar Khan Afridi, the meeting was attended by Afghan Minister of Refugees and Repatriation Syed Hussain Alemi Balkhi and Iranian Deputy Minister of Interior Hossein Zolfaghari.

Indrika Ratwatte, director of the UNHCR Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, was also in attendance.

The international community was urged to support host countries and communities and provide development assistance to end future displacement of Afghans.

All parities reaffirmed their commitment to the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR) and agreed to extend it to 2021 and to retain it as a framework for implementing solutions for Afghan refugees.

The parties reaffirmed their adherence to the principle of voluntary repatriation and called for joint efforts to create an environmentinfo-icon conducive to phased, gradual and orderly voluntary return and sustainable reintegration in Afghanistaninfo-icon.

Balkhi said due to large numbers of migrants and refugees in Pakistan and Iran and insecurity in Afghanistan, they had not reached the goals set in SSAR.

“The needs for SSAR continue to exist and I, therefore, call on the extension of the SSAR timeframe,” the minister told the participants.

Zolfaghari said Iran had enhanced services for Afghan refugees, including driving licences and work visas and regularising parts of the population.

Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan needed more international support and the UNHCR should urge the global community to honour its commitments to the humanitarian cause of Afghan refugees, he added.

Ratwatte praised Pakistan and Iran for hosting Afghan refugees for four decades.  He stressed support for ensuring the sustainability of voluntary returns in Afghanistan.

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