PR No. 165 UN High Commissioner for Refugees calls on Finance Minister Islamabad: June 22, 2016

Mr. Fillippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, called on the Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Wednesday. Minister for States and Frontier Regions Lt. Gen. (R) Abdul Quadir Baloch was also present during the meeting.

Mr. Grandi conveyed his best wishes for speedy recovery of the Prime Minister to the Finance Minister. The Finance Minister thanked the High Commissioner and assured him that his best wishes would be conveyed to the Prime Minister.

The Finance Minister welcomed the guest and appreciated the continued support of the UNHCR in handling the refugee situation in the presence of around 2.5 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan for over three decades now.

Mr. Grandi stated that the purpose of his visit at the time of World Refugee Day was to highlight the significance and contribution of Pakistan to the refugee issue, which is a global concern. He discussed with the Finance Minister the recent World Refugee situation and stated that Afghan Refugees are an unresolved issue for the government of Pakistan for a long time and UNHCR has continued to extend support to the Government of Pakistan in this regard. He apprised the Minister of his discussions with Afghan and Iranian officials with a view to chalk out a plan for the repatriation of the displaced Afghan people. He also stated that UNHCR had doubled the amount of cash assistance for voluntarily returning Afghans.

The Finance Minister, stated that Pakistan had borne the brunt of the global war on terrorism and the economy had suffered huge losses during the last many years. Pakistan had also hosted more than 3 million refugees for more than 3 decades. The country is also single-handidly managing the resources for operation Zarb-e-Azb against the militants as well as meeting the financial requirements of the internally displaced families.

He said that with the presence of an elected government in Afghanistan, the situation for repatriation of Afghan refugees should improve. The international community also needs to play its due role in ensuring that conducive atmosphere is created in Afghanistan for voluntary return of Afghan refugees. Government of Pakistan is fully committed to a solution strategy for Afghan Refugees which we want UNHCR to help implement.

The participants of the meeting agreed that a time bound action plan agreed by Afghanistan, UN and the International community for the safe return of the Afghan population needed to be chalked out. The action plan should link disbursement of financial resources with clearly stated performance benchmarks. The international community must play its due role, as peace and prosperity in Afghanistan is in the interest of everyone.

The UN High commissioner assured the Finance Minister of his continued support on the issue of Afghan Refugees and also invited Pakistan to participate in “Migrant and Refugee Summit” to be held in September this year.