By Ali Imran
ISLAMABAD: Minister for States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), Shehryar Khan Afridi, warned the other day that a humanitarian crisis was developing in Afghan refugee camps due to the ongoing lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus in the country.
â€œIf Pakistan can roll out a special relief package for Afghan refugees, why canâ€™t the developed nations come to the rescue of the besieged refugees,â€ he said in a statement, urging â€œthe United Nations and the prosperous worldâ€ to step in.
To facilitate Afghans residing in various refugee camps across the country, Prime Minister Imran Khan had issued orders for the creation of a special relief package, despite the financial difficulties faced by the country.
Afridi, however, says more needs to be done.
â€œI call upon the United Nations Secretary-General and UN High commissioner on refugees to please send food rations to these Afghans in camps which are mostly daily wagers. Failure is no option,â€ he said, adding that though the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had formed a crisis management cell on his request, the measures were yet to become a reality.
Meanwhile, the UNHCR said on April 1 that it had started dispatching core relief items to support Pakistan through the crisis following the donation of five ambulances to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
â€œIn the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the UNHCR has redoubled its efforts to assist the government in coping with increased numbers of patients requiring emergency transportation. The ambulances will be deployed to the districts of Haripur, Kohat, Mardan, Peshawar and Swabi,â€ excerpts from the UNHCRâ€™s statement said.
Pakistan entered the fourth week of a partial lockdown on Monday to contain the spread of coronavirus which has killed 50 people thus far.