Peshawar: The Governments of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees have reaffirmed their commitment to the principle of voluntary and dignified repatriation as the best solution to end the protracted Afghan refugee situation in Pakistan.
This was stated at the 22nd Tripartite Commission meeting, concluded in Lahore today.
The parties agreed that all efforts should be undertaken to expedite the voluntary repatriation of refugees in a sustainable manner and to intensify efforts for durable reintegration in Afghanistan.
The Pakistani delegation was headed by the Minister for States and Frontier Regions SAFRON, Engineer Shaukat Ullah. The Minister for Refugees and Repatriation Affairs MoRR, Dr Jamahir Anwary, led the Afghan delegation while UNHCR Representati
The participants of the Tripartite Commission meeting supported and emphasized the proposal to enhance assistance for voluntarily returns from USD 150 to USD 200. Minister Shaukat Ullah informed the delegates that the Government of Pakistan will soon announce its new policy on the management and repatriation of Afghan refugees, which is currently awaiting the approval of the Prime Minister and the cabinet.
Afghan Minister, Dr. Anwary said, “The Government of Afghanistan supports the dignified and voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees, and recognizes the need to increase efforts to facilitate voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan.
However, he noted that in view of ground realities in Afghanistan, not all the Afghans in Pakistan will be able to return in the near future. Both SAFRON and MoRR noted that the early progress on the implementation of the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees SSAR, endorsed in Geneva in May this year, required urgent enhancement through the funding of development programmes in both countries, particularly in relation to the expansion of reintegration assistance in high return areas in Afghanistan to support additional returnees. Speaking at the occasion, UNHCR’s Representative, Neill Wright said, “Efforts should be made to ensure that the Afghan refugee issue is not politicised,”
There are 1.66 million registered Afghans currently living in Pakistan. The majority of these are women and elderly people who have lived in Pakistan for more than three decades, and their Pakistan-born children. This year, nearly 83,000 Afghan refugees have returned to Afghanistan under the UNHCR facilitated voluntary return programme from Pakistan and Iran.