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Germany, UNHCR sign a EURO 10 M agreement to support refugee hosting districts


KFW Development Bank on behalf of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany and the UN Refugee Agency Thursday signed a financing and project agreement worth EURO 10 Million in support of the Refugee Affected and Hosting Area (RAHA) initiative. The funding will be used in the Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The signing ceremony was attended by Ms. Mandy Zeckra - Economic Counsellor at the German Embassy, Dr. Anna-Christine Janke - Country Director KFW Office Pakistan, Mr. Jens Clausen - Head of Division, Crisis and Governance KFW, Frankfurt, Mr. Haroon Razzaq Qureshi - Project Manager KFW Office Pakistan, Mr. Neill Wright - UNHCR Representative to Pakistan, Mr. Jose Belleza - Senior RAHA Coordinator, and Dr. Imran Zeb - Senior Joint Secretary SAFRON.

The support given by the Federal Republic of Germany (GFR) through the German Development Bank, Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KFW), is earmarked for the execution of projects in the second phase of the RAHA initiative, and will benefit the six districts of Peshawar; Haripur; Nowshera; Mansehra; Swabi and Lower Dir.

Launched in 2009, the RAHA initiative is designed to help communities in Pakistan that have hosted large numbers of Afghan refugees for more than three decades.

UNHCR acts as a Convening Agency for the initiative, which has projects providing livelihoods; access to social services such as health, education, water and sanitation; infrastructure and rehabilitation of the environment in rural districts and urban areas across the country.

By December 2012, some 1,080 RAHA projects had been implemented across Pakistan in these sectors. Around 3.9 million (585,000 Afghan refugees and 3,315,000 Pakistani citizens) are currently benefiting from these projects. These projects were jointly implemented by Government agencies; UNHCR; UNDP; UNHABITAT; FAO; WHO; UNESCO; WFP and UN WOMEN.

“The German contribution through KFW is a welcome step forward in implementing the RAHA component of SSAR,” said Neill Wright, UNHCR Representative in Pakistan.

He noted “Given Pakistan’s long hospitality to Afghan refugees, it remains essential that the international community demonstrates its burden-sharing commitment through supporting this critical initiative.

Through SSAR, we are not only supporting Pakistan with the voluntary return of refugees to their country but also helping local host communities to benefit from quality services.”

Mr. Wright added, “RAHA is designed to ensure that the additional demands on social services and utilities caused by hosting refugees does not result in a lower standard of living for the residents of those villages and towns that have so generously welcomed Afghan refugees.”

In 2012, RAHA was extended to Sindh, Punjab and FATA and some 496 projects were completed. A further 215 projects have been launched so far in 2013.

Speaking at the occasion, Dr. Imran Zeb, said, "The long stay for over three decades of the Afghan Refugees in Pakistan has had a negative impact on the socio-economic infrastructure, and as such the RAHA initiative is a very important contribution to rehabilitate and develop this infrastructure.