Shehryar seeks UNHCR relief package for Afghan refugees

By Adnan Rafique

ISLAMABAD: Minister for States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) Shehryar Khan Afridi Sunday sought the assistance of United Nations (UN), United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) and international community for Afghan refugees living in Pakistan and facing problems due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. He urged the world bodies to come forward and help the refugees stationed in Pakistani camps amid the limited movement as part of national strategy to contain the spread of novel coronavirus, by announcing a relief package for them.
The Minister made these remarks while speaking to media here at Afghan Camp after installing a walk through sanitation gate at the camp. Afridi warned the prosperous world and the United Nations against developing human crisis in Afghan refugees’ camps due to prolonged lockdown situation amidst Coronavirus outbreak.
The Minister said that he had raised funds for helping out the Afghan refugees stranded in camps due to lockdown situation.
He said that on his request, Prime Minister Imran Khan had already directed formation of a special relief package for Afghan refugees despite financial difficulties faced by the country.
“If Pakistan can roll out a special relief package for Afghan refugees, why can’t the developed nations come to the rescue of the besieged refugees. Afghan refugees migrated due to Afghan war under launched under UN umbrella. Now it is responsibility of the UN and the world to help these refugees,†he said.
Shehryar Afridi said that Pakistan was doing its bit to help out refugees despite the fact that Pakistan was not a signatory of UN convention on refugees and its protocols. The Minister said that he had written a letter to the Pakistan representative of United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, to immediately divert funds to provide food to besieged Afghans in refugee camps.
“I would call upon the United Nations Secretary General and UN High commissioner on refugees to please send food rations to these Afghans in camps who are mostly daily wagers. Failure is no option,†he said and added that though the UNHCR had formed a crisis management cell on his request but there was a need to turn measures into practical support. He said that food items need to be sent to Afghan refugees on war-footings as the refugees were out of food since two weeks.