UNHCR holds Awareness raising session

QUETTA: Several countries of the world have refugees laws but it is not so in Pakistan. The country made a request with UNHCR and we are drafting law for Pakistan and hopefully soon Pakistan would have refugee laws.

These views were expressed by speakers UNHCR Representative Ms Maya Ameratunga, UNHCR Quetta Sub Office head Fabio Varoli, Mohammad Ali, Dunya Aslam at Awareness raising session for Journalists on UNHCR’s mandate here Tuesday.

Media officer Javaria Tareen was also present.

They speakers said that strength of registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan stands at 1.5 million. NADRA has data of these 1.5 million documented Afghan refugees. They said we are trying to register stateless people.

They added UNHCR is only involved with IDPs. It works with government other than UN agencies, NGOs etc.

They said UNHCR was providing free legal aid to registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan. They expressed satisfaction that no refugee was involved in criminal or terrorism activity which is good sign. Government of Pakistan had directed not to harass POR holders. We are in touch with government through talks about expiry of POR cards. Most appropriate solution of Afghan refugees is to return to their country provided they get employment, health and education facilities.

They told that 3.8 million Afghan refugees have been repatriated from Pakistan. Of this 626000 are from Balochistan. Till todate there are 1`.5 million Afghan refugees were living in Balochistan. In 2002 when there was fall of Taliban a lot of people returned. They said presence of refugees is not negative but positive. They told that in 2002 repatriation programme began.

Answering a question they said that UNHCR has no government nor it has any territory.

They said that RAHA has 21projects in six districts of Balochistan along Pak-Afghan border. They said presence of Afghan refugees is burden on infrastructure and resources. It came in 2009 to share burden of host. Eight million people were benefitting from RAHA programme in Pakistan.

Speakers said UNHCR received 1800 applications for settlement in foreign countries. Of This 318 applications were accepted and so far 100 families have repatriated mainly to Australia.

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