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The Government of Japan has provided US$ 6 million in support of the UNHCR’s refugee programmes in Pakistan.
The Japanese funds will support UNHCR’s commitment to provide primary school education to around 75,000 refugee children in different refugee villages.
The funding will also bolster UNHCR’s efforts in providing assistance to Afghan refugees in the areas of primary health care, provision of legal services, specialized services for children at risk, and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. These services will benefit refugees not only residing in refugee villages but those in different urban settlements across Pakistan as well.
“The Government of Japan is strongly committed to assisting Afghan refugees in Pakistan who have only limited access to essential services and protection. Such assistance will also help to alleviate the burden of host communities in Pakistan,” said Akira Kono, Chargé d’Affaires of Japan to Pakistan.
“A part of our funding will also be used for capacity building of the relevant institutions in Pakistan. I sincerely hope that our assistance will contribute to securing the basic needs of the refugees and to stability in the refugee-affected and refugee-hosting regions.”
“Japan continues to be a strong supporter of global humanitarian efforts, and once again the Government and people of Japan have demonstrated their commitment to helping the most vulnerable,” said Neill Wright, UNHCR Representative in Pakistan.
Wright added that, “The funds donated to UNHCR’s operations in Pakistan will contribute to finding lasting solutions in the world’s longest-running refugee situation.”
He noted, “3.8 million Afghan refugees have repatriated from Pakistan since 2002, but we must not forget about those who cannot yet return home. The Afghan refugees still in Pakistan also need continued support.”
At present, Pakistan is home to 1.64 million Afghans, many of whom may not be able to return to Afghanistan in the near future owing to ongoing uncertainty about a future in their home country.
In December 2012, the Government of Pakistan agreed to extend the validity of the Proof of Registration Cards (PoR) until 30 June 2013. The six-month extension is a welcome gesture by the Government of Pakistan. Nevertheless, UNHCR will seek to prevent any increased pressure on Afghan refugees by law enforcement authorities - including restrictions on movement, extortion, detentions, and difficulties in accessing services.
In view of the above, the need for the provision of legal assistance becomes more important. One part of the Japanese contribution will be allocated to border monitoring, protection advocacy and protection capacity building of relevant authorities and NGO staff.
Japan is one of UNHCR’s major donors globally; the country has been supporting UNHCR’s Afghan refugee programmes in the region for many years. In 2012, the people of Japan provided USD 6 million from its Supplementary Budget and USD 1.26 million from its Annual Contribution in support of UNHCR’s Pakistan operation. Japan has also previously funded UNHCR’s shelter projects for the flood and conflict-affected Pakistanis in the country.