Plan devised for early repatriation of Afghan refugees: Senate told

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ISLAMABAD, July 28 (APP): Minister for States and Frontier Regions Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Abdul Qadir Baloch Thursday informed the Senate that a plan had been devised for early repatriation of Afghan Refugees to their country.

Speaking during question hour in the Senate, the minister said the Prime Minister had approved the extension in validity of PoR cards of registered Afghan refugees till December 31, 2016.

However, a high level meeting was held in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, deciding that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would approach the Government of Afghanistan bilaterally on the political and diplomatic level.

The Ministry of SAFRON would engage UNHCR and Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation Afghanistan to pursue and devise modalities for implementation of early returns as well as the possibility of shifting Afghan refugees gradually from Pakistan to Afghanistan where the Afghan Government should establish settlements for them.

The Minister said Inter-Ministerial Committee headed by Secretary SAFRON comprising relevant government stakeholders had been constituted to devise a plan of action for early repatriation of Afghan Refugees in the light of Prime Minister’s directives.

Thus, Ministry of SAFRON had worked out a plan and shared with all the stakeholders, adding the committee had finalized its recommendations which were in process of implementation to ensure early repatriation of all Afghans.

He said at present there were 1.5 million registered and one million un-documented Afghans living in Pakistan and added the repatriation of registered Afghan Refugees was guided by the principle of voluntarism as embedded in the Tripartite Agreement signed between Governments of Pakistan, Afghanistan and UNHCR that is valid till December 31, 2016.

He said at present there were 54 camps of registered Afghan Refugees in Pakistan, adding since 2002, total 3.92 million registered Afghan Refugees had been repatriated from Pakistan including 1,158,508 individuals from the camps.

Replying to another question, he said that allocated Annual Development Plan budget-2015-16 for FATA was Rs.

19.700 billion, out of which over Rs 17 billion was utilized so far.