By: The Kabul Times
Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have agreed to implement the three pillars strategy of voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees, sustainable reintegration in home country and support for host countries.
The agreement was reached at an informal session of informal Quadripartite (Q4) meeting held in Geneva on the sidelines of the 70th session of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Program, according to a statement on Friday.
The Q4 group formally and in principle agreed that Global Refugees Forum being held in December should showcase the good work done for Afghan refugees. It was observed that the shortcomings that still exist in the management of refugees and their gradual and voluntary repatriation should be plugged.
The meeting also agreed in principle for a “Support Platform” that would include additional players, expected to contribute to this cause for both the host and home countries.
The Q4 was attended by Afghan Minister for Refugees and Repatriation Sayed Hussain Alemi Balkhi, Pakistani Minister for SAFRON and Narcotics Control Shehryar Khan Afridi, Iran’s Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli and the UNHCR Regional Director.
During the meeting, Shehryar Afridi elaborated on Pakistan’s contributions in hosting Afghan refugees. He said that Pakistan had incurred billions of dollars to facilitate Afghan refugees in health, education, protection, documentation, trainings, livelihood and other welfare initiatives.
He said that the latest initiative taken to facilitate Afghan refugees is allowing them to open and operate bank accounts. “Pakistan doesn’t seek praise for its commitment towards welfare and well-being of Afghan refugees. Pakistan needs acknowledgment and commitment from other partners in burden and responsibility sharing,” he added.
Afghan Minister for Refugees and Repatriation Alemi Balkhi said that his government supported the return of all Afghan refugees and their reintegration. He said that the Afghan government has been working on 15-20 areas for the rehabilitation of refugees. “Those areas are being developed to settle the returnees. We are also working for an incentive for them. We are hopeful that the Global Refugee Forum meetings due in December in Geneva this year would go a long way in this regard,” Balkhi said.
Iran’s Interior Minister Abdolreza Rehmani Fazli said that only words and commitments are not enough, and some practical and bold steps are required to ensure return of refugees. “To make these meetings meaningful, a group of experts from all countries should be constituted so that they do the groundwork, identify gaps, hold initial discussions and bring recommendations to this forum,” Fazli said.
He said that the first priority should be security and shelter for refugees in Afghanistan and the second priority should be the provision of health, education and livelihood in Afghanistan. “And only then we may see some progress,” he concluded.