Afghan refugee families at a UNHCR repatriation terminal in Peshawar, Pakistan. - AP Photo.

ISLAMABAD: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is providing free elementary education to more than 74,000 Afghans through 176 schools in 81 camps in the country.

Talking to APP on Thursday an official of UNHCR said for the provision of free education, the agency facilitates the repair and maintenance of schools, provide teachers' salaries and school supplies to the students.

To a question, he said the UNHCR and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) according to an agreement will include Afghan children, youth, women and other vulnerable groups in the agency's programmes to achieve sustainable and long-lasting solutions and ensure their rights to have the full access to education, science, free flow of information, cultural activities and social services during their stay in the country. To another question, he said UNHCR working with the Government to assist registered Afghan refugees or those holding Proof of Registration (PoR) cards, asylum-seekers and recognized refugees, from Afghanistan.

He said Pakistan continues to host some 1.7 million refugees, one of the largest populations of its kind in the world. Most are from Afghanistan and live in refugee settlements and urban areas. Since March 2002, approximately 3.6 million Afghans have repatriated from Pakistan with UNHCR's assistance, he added.

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