8000 refugees, Pakistanis to benefit from RAHA projects


KARACHI: The Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) and the UN Refugee Agency today inaugurated five projects in Sindh in the education and health sectors, under the government-led Refugee Affected and Hosting Areas (RAHA) initiative. The projects included rehabilitation of four government schools to benefit some 3,000 Pakistani and Afghan students, and the upgrading of a Basic Health Unit in Tharoo Goth, Karachi. More than 5,000 Afghan and Pakistani patients will benefit from this improved facility in Union Council 5, in the port city of Karachi.

The projects inaugurated were jointly implemented by UNHCR in collaboration with the Government Health Department for the BHU, the Government Education Department, and a local NGO partner, SHARP, for the education projects.

Neill Wright, UNHCR Representative in Pakistan, said, “Refugees constitute just a small proportion of the total 13 million people in Karachi, but in their limited capacity they are contributing to support the economy of Pakistan. UNHCR is delighted to contribute to efforts to encourage peaceful coexistence through RAHA interventions aimed at supporting those communities that have so generously helped refugees for over three decades.”

Projects implemented under the RAHA initiative are designed to improve the lives of people living in locations that have been impacted by the 30-year presence of Afghan refugees in Pakistan. By addressing the needs of host communities as well as those of refugees, the RAHA programme seeks to promote social cohesion.

In 2012, after the formal endorsement of the Solutions Strategy for Afghans Refugees (SSAR) at an international conference in Geneva, the scope of RAHA was extended beyond Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan to Sindh, Punjab and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan.

That year, UNHCR completed three projects in Karachi’s UC 4 and UC 5, focusing on education and sanitation. The sanitation project was carried out in collaboration with the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board, and has provided more hygienic conditions for the residents of Jamali Goth. More than 30,000 people are benefiting from the projects.

Of the total 1.6 million registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan, Karachi hosts some 66,000; with the vast majority of the refugees in Sindh being economically independent.

Since 2009, UNHCR, other UN agencies in Pakistan, and government line departments, along with local and International NGOs, have completed some 2,089 projects in 41 districts across Pakistan, including five Agencies in FATA, benefiting more than 4.5 million Pakistanis and Afghan refugees. The programme’s interventions cover the sectors of education, health, water, sanitation and hygiene and livelihoods.

The inauguration ceremony was held at Tharoo Goth in UC 5 Songal, Gadap Town, and was attended by representatives of the Sindh Government, NGO partners, civil society and refugees.

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