Shah Mahmood Qureshi
file photo

ISLAMABAD, Jun 20 (APP):Minister for Foreign Affairs Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi Saturday said as the COVID-19 had compounded the vulnerabilities already displaced people, the global support to refugees and host communities was imperative more than ever in the current scenario.

“This year, the devastating impact of COVID-19 has compounded the vulnerabilities of those already displaced by violence and conflicts.

Today, more than ever, reaffirmation of global support to refugees and host communities as a shared responsibility and a global response that commensurates with fiscal needs of large refugee hosting countries, is imperative,” the foreign minister said in his message on World Refugee Day observed on the day.

He said the World Refugee Day was a yearly reminder of importance of peace, prevention and resolution of conflicts that were main reasons for forced displacement of millions of people from their homes.

He said over the past forty years, people of Pakistan had demonstrated exemplary generosity, solidarity and compassion in hosting millions of Afghan refugees.

These humane values have shaped Pakistan’s inclusive policies in public health, education, livelihoods and social mobility, he added.

“Our COVID-19 response has been inclusive, wherein our health and other services are being utilized by Afghan refugees without any discrimination,” the foreign minister remarked.

He said Pakistan had led efforts in advocacy, awareness-raising and good practices in caring for and protecting one of the largest protracted refugee populations in the world.

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan had co-convened the first Global Refugee Forum (GRF) in Geneva in December 2019. In February 2020, Pakistan hosted an International Afghan Refugee Conference in Islamabad to mark 40 years of Afghan refugees presence in the country and seeking to find durable solutions to the Afghan protracted refugee situation.

Foreign Minister Qureshi said Pakistan valued the commendable work of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for refugees worldwide and looked forward to positive response to the UNHCR’s appeals for
Afghan refugees and host communities in Pakistan.

“On this Day, Pakistan renews its call for adherence to the principle of global burden and responsibility sharing, commitment to pursuing durable solutions, and an early peaceful settlement in Afghanistan that paves the way for time bound, gradual, well-resourced and mutually agreed framework for the repatriation of Afghan refugees to their homeland,” he stated.