PESHAWAR: The Government of Pakistan, Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in collaboration with Pakistan Post, have begun the first disbursements of emergency cash assistance to the most vulnerable refugee families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To mark the occasion, Federal Minister for SAFRON Sahabzada Mehboob Sultan, Secretary for SAFRON Muhammad Aslam Kamboh, Chief Commissioner for Afghan Refugees Saleem Khan, UNHCR Representative Ms Noriko Yoshida and Postmaster General Laeeq Zaman visited Golra Post Office and helped distribute cash assistance to refugees, says a press release.

“This is a significant event and important milestone for the emergency cash programme that will continue over the coming months,” said Ms Yoshida. “Together with the Government of Pakistan, we must make sure that we ‘leave no one behind’ during these difficult times.”

“We are pleased to witness the very first disbursements of the cash assistance provided to our brothers and sisters from Afghanistan,” noted Mr Sultan. “I believe this support will be a lifeline for so many vulnerable refugee families.” He added that after working tirelessly for months with the UNHCR, efforts were now translating into concrete action, with the cash distribution taking place.

Last week, the UNHCR and the Pakistan Post signed an innovative agreement for the disbursement of the emergency cash assistance. The emergency cash follows the federal government’s Ehsaas emergency cash programme, where vulnerable families receive Rs12,000 to cover a four-month period.

Some 36,000 families will be the initial beneficiaries for this emergency cash assistance from UNHCR through the Pakistan Post. It will help the most vulnerable refugee families to meet their urgent needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Coronavirus lockdown situation has impacted the working class and the refugees in Pakistan have also been impacted and many of them have lost their source of income and they need immediate assistance to fulfil their basic needs.

Postmaster General Laeeq Zaman said, “Pakistan Post will be there every step of the way in solidarity with Afghan refugees, as this emergency cash assistance programme is rolled out across the country.”