ISLAMABAD: The government of Japan Wednesday pledged a contribution of USD 2.7 million to support refugees and host communities across Pakistan.
This contribution will support UNHCR’s interventions in the areas of health, livelihoods, as well as the provision of legal support to around 1.39 million registered Afghan refugees. The new funding will benefit some 475,000 refugees and youth in host communities in the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Punjab.
Ambassador of Japan to Pakistan Takashi Kurai and UNHCR’s Country Representative in Pakistan, Ms. Ruvendrini Menikdiwela signed the agreement with Chief Commissioner for Afghan Refugees, Mr. Saleem Khan, in attendance.
Part of Japan’s contribution will be invested in the health sector to improve access to healthcare services in Pakistan. This will support some 430,000 Afghan refugees with health issues. The assistance also will provide the legal aid services for Afghan refugees.
UNHCR’s aid and legal advice programme is implemented through partners in nine centres in the main refugee-hosting areas across Pakistan. The new funding will support some 45,000 Afghan refugees and help continue the provision of free legal advice and legal aid, as well as court representation for refugees who have been detained. In addition, Japan’s aid will be spent on bolstering refugee’s self-reliance. UNHCR will provide livelihoods support to Pakistani youth and Afghan refugee youth through vocational and technical skills training.
Speaking at the occasion, Ms. Ruvendrini Menikdiwela commended the people and government of Japan for the contribution saying this will allow UNHCR to continue supporting vulnerable Afghan refugees and youth of the Pakistani host communities.
“Such support will have a positive impact on the lives of Afghan refugees allowing them to have access to better healthcare services, livelihood opportunities, as well as legal support,” Menikdiwela said.
Ambassador Kurai said: “I hope this grant aid will be fully utilised for the future of Afghan refugees and host communities, especially young generations and mitigate the burden of host communities. I am glad that not only Afghan refugees but also Pakistani youth in host communities will receive vocational training with Japan’s contribution so that they can contribute to the development of the two countries.”
Japan highly appreciates the efforts made by the Pakistani people in host communities who have been accommodating Afghan refugees for nearly four decades.
Last year, the Government of Japan also provided some US$ 3.8 million specifically to UNHCR Pakistan while Japan has been assisting Afghan refugees in Pakistan and their host communities for over ten years with grants of some USD 200 million.
Pakistan continues to host 1.39 million Afghan refugees. Around 4.3 million Afghan refugees have returned to Afghanistan since 2002.