ISLAMABAD: UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency has intensified its outreach to Afghan refugee communities to raise awareness of the coronavirus.

Amid these challenging times, arranging large group discussions in the community is not only risky but not permitted. To help overcome this, UNHCR announced the top-up of mobile cards for 3,000 Outreach Volunteers and community mobilizers across the country to strengthen effective digital communication.

The Outreach Volunteers and community mobilizers are Afghan refugees who help disseminate information within their communities. They also carry out important advocacy with the local authorities and service providers.

UNHCR supports around 2,200 Outreach Volunteers and some 800 community mobilizers in Pakistan. Outreach Volunteers, community organizers as well as elders and shuras are all an integral part of UNHCR’s community-based approach, which ensures that refugees play a role in responding to situations that affect their lives.

“The role of Outreach Volunteers in Pakistan is especially instrumental at this time in ensuring that government information on COVID-19 is effectively disseminated through digital channels,” said the Deputy Representative of UNHCR in Pakistan, Mr. Iain Hall. He noted that this is a one-time mobile top-up of Rs.1,000 per person.

The UN Refugee Agency supports the Government of Pakistan’s surveillance, preparedness, and response plans, which include refugees. Together with the Ministry of SAFRON and the Commissionerate of Afghan Refugees, NGO partners are also supporting health education campaigns at the community level and in health facilities in all the refugee villages on COVID-19 prevention and response.