UNHCR launches assistance scheme for 1.3 million Afghan refugees

UNHCR launches assistance scheme for 1.3 million Afghan refugees

ISLAMABAD, Feb 2 (APP): United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Thursday launched a one-time cash assistance scheme for some 1.3 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan affected by devastating 2022 floods as well as the prevailing economic situation.

Minister for State and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) Muhammad Talha Mahmood, and Habib Bank Limited Chief Representative Mohammad Ali Syed launched the scheme with UNHCR’s Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific Indrika Ratwatte.

Speaking on the occasion Talha Mahmood said, “We have generously supported Afghan refugees in our country for over four decades. Even as we face our own challenges, we remain committed to our promise to help. But we cannot do it alone and call for additional international support at this time in line with the global commitment to share responsibility for refugees made under the UN Refugee Compact.”

“We are honoured to work together with our long-standing partner, the Government of Pakistan, through its SAFRON Ministry, as well as Habib Bank Limited — for the first time — to support Afghans affected by the devastating floods and who remain in difficult economic circumstances. This support comes in addition to UNHCR’s emergency flood response for Afghan refugees and affected Pakistani host communities,” said Ratwatte.

He added “the partnership is UNHCR’s first private sector engagement with the country’s banking system and is a great example of the commitment of the Government and private sector in the country to find innovative approaches to support vulnerable Afghans. I hope this partnership is something we can build on further, including in the lead up to the Global Refugee Forum later this year.”

The assistance is provided in collaboration with the Government of Pakistan to reach refugees who were not eligible to access social safety nets available to Pakistani citizens.

The initiative modelled on the Government’s emergency cash programme for vulnerable Pakistani families affected by floods.

It noted that registered Afghan refugees would receive up to PKR 25,000, adjusted depending on the family size.