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Tripartite meeting stresses supporting refugees’ needs

Tripartite meeting stresses supporting refugees’ needs

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Feb 15, 2017 - 20:21

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Afghanistaninfo-icon and Pakistaninfo-icon on Wednesday signed extension into the stay of Afghan refugees until the end of this year, underlining importance of moving expeditiously to support the needs of the refugees.

Representatives from Pakistan, Afghanistan and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) met in Islamabad for the 28th Tripartite Commission, the UNHCR said in a statement.

The high-level meeting in Islamabad was attended by Pakistan Federal Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Quadir Baloch, Afghan Refugee and Repatriation Minister Syed Hussein Alimi Balkhi and deputy Minister of Finance of Afghanistan Mohammad Mustafa Mastoor

Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Dr. Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal and other senior government officials were present at the meeting. The UN refugee agency was represented by country representatives based in Pakistan, Indrika Ratwatte and in Afghanistan Ms. Fathiaa Abdalla.

Afghanistan has recently formed a high-level Displacement and Return Executive Committee (DiREC) to prioritise assistance needs and reintegration prospects of internally displaced people and returnees under the Afghanistan’s National Peace and Development Framework.

Pakistan last week adopted a national policy relating to the management of Afghan refugees and Afghan nationals living in the country.

At the meeting, the governments and UNHCR reiterated their commitment to upholding the principles of voluntary repatriation in safety and dignity, in line with the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR).

Representatives of UNHCR and Afghanistan government expressed appreciation to the government of Pakistan for adoption of a national policy relating to the management of Afghan refugees and Afghan nationals in Pakistan.

The new policy extends the validity of the Proof of Registration cards until the end of 2017,commits to adoption of a national refugee law; includes plans for documentation of Afghan nationals who currently have no identification and builds on the existing visa regime – making it more flexible for different categories of Afghan nationals.

Baloch said the protracted Afghan refugee crisis shouldn’t be forgotten and more practical steps were needed in Afghanistan for sustainable reintegration of the returnees.

“I also today call again for collective and sustained efforts to provide financial support to enable Afghans to return home.”

Balkhi said: “The government of Afghanistan is taking practical measures to implement reintegration and integration projects to ensure access to basic services for returnees.”

UNHCR’s Representative in Pakistan Indrika Ratwatte underscored the importance of youth empowerment through educationinfo-icon, skills and livelihoods to build the resilience, self-reliance and human capital of future generations and a way of promoting regional stability.

Ratwatte said: “Access to education of Afghan children in Pakistan as well as of returnee children in Afghanistan is crucial. More effort is now needed to resolve academic certificate equivalency issues for returnee children and youth.”

UNHCR’s Representative in Afghanistan, Abdalla emphasised the importance of sustainable return and reintegration as a national priority and complement to the cash grant.

“In view of facilitating self-reliance of returnees, this includes access to land, shelter, social services, livelihood opportunities and representation in a community-based approach.”

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