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Call to end problems of Afghan refugees

June 21, 2012

PESHAWAR, June 20: Head of UNHCR sub-office, Peshawar, Ahmad Warsame on Wednesday urged Pakistani and Afghan governments and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to get together for resolving the problems faced by 1.7 million registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

He said this while addressing a ceremony held here to mark the World Refugees Day at University of Peshawar, according to a news release.

The ceremony was also attended by Safron secretary Habibullah Khan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa special secretary (home) Alamgir and representative of the Afghan Refugee and Registration Ministry Abdul Hamid Jalili. Senior academia and university lecturers, refugees, UN officials and representatives of NGOs were also in attendance.

Mr Warasme urged Pakistani government to ensure protection of Afghan refugees living in the country and said law-enforcers should be stopped from unlawfully deporting them.

The Safron secretary said the government would continue fulfilling international commitments and obligations and won’t force Afghan refugees into returning home.

Speakers on the occasion discussed the new ‘Regional Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees’ that was endorsed by the international community at a Geneva conference last month.

They said the strategy, which called for durable solution to the problem of Afghan refugees and additional developmental assistance to areas of high refugee return inside Afghanistan, would help refugees go home and re-establish their lives.

According to them, the strategy also urges additional international support to Pakistan and Iran, which together hosted nearly four million refugees.

The speakers said one in every four refugees in the world was from Afghanistan, while Pakistan currently gave refuge to the most number of refugees and asylum seekers from other countries.

They said the UNHCR had facilitated the repatriation of more than 3.7 million Afghan refugees since 2002 and that was the world’s largest voluntary repatriation.