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UNHCR Advocates for Innovative Refugee Solutions in Pakistan

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In a recent three-day visit to Pakistan, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, emphasized the urgent need for enhanced support and long-term solutions for Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan. This visit included meetings with government officials, interactions with Afghan refugees, and discussions on policy extensions and future plans.

Key Outcomes of the Visit

  • Extension of Proof of Registration (PoR) Cards: Grandi highlighted the importance of extending the Proof of Registration (PoR) cards for Afghan refugees, a vital document for over 1.3 million Afghans in Pakistan. This extension is crucial for the legal status and security of the refugees​.
  • Suspension of the “Illegal Foreigners Repatriation Plan”: The High Commissioner welcomed the suspension of the “Illegal Foreigners Repatriation Plan” and sought assurances that this suspension would continue, underscoring Pakistan’s long-standing tradition of hospitality towards refugees​.
  • Urgent Reset of the Aid Model: Grandi called for an urgent reset of the aid model to focus on solutions and responsibility sharing. He emphasized the need for innovative approaches and new partnerships to address the protracted displacement situation​.
  • Future Dialogue and Partnerships: A key proposal from Grandi was to initiate a dialogue later in the year, involving stakeholders from the government, development sectors, and private sector, aimed at crafting comprehensive solutions benefiting both the Afghan refugees and the host communities​.
  • Support for Voluntary Repatriation and Integration: While voluntary repatriation remains a priority, the UNHCR also stressed the importance of exploring other solutions, such as third-country resettlement and long-term integration within Pakistan. This approach seeks to provide a multifaceted response to the refugee crisis​.

The visit by Filippo Grandi has brought several critical issues to the forefront:

  • Legal and Security Assurance: The timely extension of PoR cards is fundamental in ensuring that Afghan refugees continue to have legal status in Pakistan. Without this extension, refugees face the risk of becoming undocumented, which can lead to insecurity and marginalization.
  • Humanitarian and Economic Strain: Pakistan has hosted millions of Afghan refugees for over four decades, demonstrating commendable hospitality despite facing its own economic and social challenges. The suspension of the repatriation plan alleviates some immediate concerns, but long-term strategies are essential for sustainable refugee management​.
  • Need for International Support: Grandi’s call for a reset in the aid model and fostering new partnerships highlights the need for international support. The protracted nature of the Afghan refugee situation requires a global response, including increased financial aid and technical support from the international community​.
  • Comprehensive Solutions: The proposed dialogue involving multiple stakeholders aims to create a holistic approach to the refugee crisis. By including development actors and the private sector, there is potential for innovative solutions that can provide economic opportunities and improve living conditions for refugees and host communities alike​.
  • Focus on Voluntary Repatriation: While the focus remains on creating conditions conducive for voluntary repatriation, the reality of the ongoing conflict and instability in Afghanistan means that other solutions, such as local integration and third-country resettlement, must be pursued with equal vigor​.

Filippo Grandi’s visit

Filippo Grandi’s visit to Pakistan has underscored the critical need for renewed efforts and international collaboration to address the Afghan refugee crisis. By extending legal protections, suspending adverse repatriation plans, and fostering new partnerships, there is hope for more sustainable and humane solutions. However, the success of these initiatives hinges on the commitment of the international community to support Pakistan and the Afghan refugees through this challenging period.

Credit: Mr. Waseem Qadri also Contribute this article

Abu Bakr Alvi
Abu Bakr Alvi
Mr. Abu Bakr Alvi, Senior Journalist Based in Faisalabad

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