UNHCR donates vaccine storage facility to govt

Updated November 08, 2019


UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Operations George  Okoth-Obbo addresses the inaugural function of cold chain warehouse in Peshawar on Thursday. — White Star
UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Operations George Okoth-Obbo addresses the inaugural function of cold chain warehouse in Peshawar on Thursday. — White Star

PESHAWAR: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has donated a modern vaccine storage facility to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to cater to its needs.

An official statement issued here said the facility, which had the capacity to store large amounts of vaccines, would benefit one million children and one million women of child-bearing age.

The cold chain warehouse was inaugurated here on Thursday during a special ceremony, where UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Operations George Okoth-Obbo, Minister of State for States and Frontier Regions Shehryar Khan Afridi, provincial health minister Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan and relevant officials were in attendance.

Praises Pakistan for generous support to refugees

The UN refugee agency had signed a memorandum of understanding with the health department last year to strengthen immunisation services.

Mr Okoth-Obbo said he was satisfied with the installation of vaccine storage facilities in both Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces, which hosted the largest number of refugees.

“In the last five years, the UNHCR has helped channel more than $38 million to Pakistan just to support healthcare,” he said.

The UNHCR assistant high commissioner said the international community valued Pakistan’s generous support to Afghan refugees despite economic and social challenges.

He reiterated the agency’s commitment to helping mobilise additional political, financial and technical support for the sustainable solution to the problems of Afghan refugees.

Mr Okoth-Obbo said the UNHCR and the governments of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan had decided to launch a support platform to enhance international solidarity for the Afghan refugee situation.

“To be formally launched in Dec at the first-ever Global Refugee Forum, the first major meeting on refugees of the 21stcentury, the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees Support Platform will seek stronger political and financial commitments to accelerate concrete results. Pakistan is one of five co-conveners of the meeting, which presents a unique opportunity for the international community to make a tangible and long-term difference in the lives of refugees and the communities that host them,” he said.

State minister for Safron Shehryar Afridi said Pakistan had been providing shelter, healthcare and education to millions of Afghan refugees since 1980s.

He said 68 per cent of the Afghan refugees lived outside camps in Pakistan.

The minister urged international community not to ignore the sacrifices of Pakistan in the war against terrorism and provision of shelter to millions of refugees.

Also in the day, a UNHCR delegation led by state minister Sheryar Afridi called on Chief Minister Mahmood Khan at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat.

The chief minister appreciated the steps taken by the UN agency for the refugee welfare in the province.

The two sides agreed on bilateral cooperation and the establishment of vocational training centers for the development of backward areas in the province focusing on a comprehensive planning to provide livelihood opportunities to the community of the newly-merged districts.

Mr Mahmood said the government was taking concrete steps for the development and prosperity of backward districts.

He said the establishment of vocational training centres would not only provide technical training to youths but would also provide them with huge employment opportunities.

“Development of the province and newly-merged districts is the priority of the incumbent government,” he said. The CM presented shields to the UNHCR assistant high commissioner (operations) and director of the Regional Bureau for Asia-Pacific.

Adviser to the CM on industries Abdul Karim Torghar and principal secretary to chief minister Shahab Ali Shah were also present on the occasion.

Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2019