PESHAWAR: The rehabilitation of five schools of Swabi by United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has increased enrolment of children by over 70 percent.

According to the UNHCR press release, five schools of Swabi including Government Higher Secondary School Ismaila, Government Primary School Ismaila, Government High Secondary School Yaar Hussain, Government Primary School Yaar Hussain and Government Primary School Hemlet were rehabilitated and improved that led to increase of children enrolment by 70 percent.

A ceremony to mark the accomplishment was held in Government Higher Secondary School Ismaila Swabi that was attended by Minister for Elementary and Secondary Education Shahram Khan Tarakai, Head of UNHCR Peshawar Sub Office Bernard Inkoom and Commissioner for Afghan Refugees Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Abbas Khan, and representatives of various government departments among others.

Shahram Tarakai appreciated efforts of the UN refugee agency and European Union for strengthening Pakistan’s development initiatives including education sector.

Speaking on the occasion, Bernard Inkoom admired hospitality of people of Pakistan towards Afghan refugees in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With improved facilities in public schools, Pakistani and refugee students would have an opportunity to learn side by side in a safe environment,” he said.

The Afghan refugees commissioner expressed gratitude to UNHCR for its support to overcome challenges and to ensure that children living in Pakistan grow and learn in a safe environment.

Earlier, the UNHCR welcomed the Government of Pakistan’s efforts to vaccinate Afghan refugees as part of its COVID-19 vaccination programme.

In some parts of the country, Afghan refugees who meet the criteria for receiving a vaccine have already started to register themselves.

“It’s very important that Pakistan has taken this positive step of including refugees in its vaccination efforts. The virus doesn’t recognize whether a person is a refugee or a citizen. It poses an equal threat for all. Nobody is safe until we are all safe,” said UNHCR’s Representative in Pakistan, Noriko Yoshida.

Health interventions for host communities and refugees in Pakistan are also bolstered through the multi-stakeholder Support Platform for the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR). One of the core objectives of the SSAR is enabling solutions in Afghanistan and supporting refugee-hosting communities in Iran and Pakistan.

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