Denmark supports UNHCR efforts to empower Afghan refugees in Pakistan
ISLAMABAD —Danish Charge’d Affaires Jakob Rogild Jakobsen on Friday said empowering Afghan refugee youth in Pakistan ‘through enhanced vocational training and livelihoods projects’ was an impor-tant initiative to shore up the human capital of Afghan refugees. He was talking to Indrika Ratwatte, UNHCR Country Representative who called on him to discuss the current situation of Afghan refugees and internally displaced persons in Pakistan.
Empowering Afghan refugees would allow them to contribute to the reconstruction and development proc-esses upon return to Afghanistan, he said ac- cording to a statement of the embassy here. Denmark has allocated approximately USD three million towards UNHCR programmes in Pakistan for 2016. Its contribution will support the implementation of Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees, UNHCR’s activities towards voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees in Pakistan and efforts to empower refugee youth in Pakistan through provision of vocational training and technical skills.
The total of Danish funds for UNHCR Pakistan amounts to a total of USD 13.2 million since 2013 to date. Ratwatte highlighted that due to the generous support from Denmark and other donors, UNHCR was able to implement a fiveyear Health transition strategy (2014-2018) which has been developed by UNHCR and has gradually been rolled out and aimed at implementing the progressive disengagement of UNHCR from the existing parallel system of Basic Health Unit (BHUs) exiting in the Rural Villages (RVs).’
Pakistan continues to generously host over 1.5 million Afghan refugee Proof of Registration (PoR) cardholders. Children and youth constitute approximately 70 percent of the total refugee population. While Afghan refugees are dispersed across more than 70 countries, an overwhelming 95 per cent continue to be hosted by Pakistan and Iran. Some 3.9 million Afghan refugees have returned to Afghanistan since 2002, including more than 58,000 in 2015, said the statement.
While discussing the current status of refugees and the voluntary repatriation process, Jakobsen appreciated UNHCR’s work and said that Denmark looked at the Afghan refugee crisis from a regional perspective. It focuses on sustainable solutions that would help refugees and internally displaced persons secure access to protection as close to their home as possible. Denmark is among the biggest contributors to UNHCR’s regional program in South West Asia. Ratwatte said that UNHCR Pakistan supports youth empowerment through a nexus of inter-linked interventions in the areas of education, skills training and livelihood support.
He recalled that inclusive and equitable education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all has been agreed upon in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), said the statement.