Japan offers $7m aid to support Afghan refugees in Pakistan

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ISLAMABAD: The Japanese government has announced a $7 million aid for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme (WFP) to support Afghan refugees and host communities in Pakistan.

The announcement was made by Minister for States and Frontier Regions retired Lt Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch and Japan’s Ambassador Takashi Kurai at a ceremony. Acting UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Indrika Ratwatte, UNHCR Assistant Representative for Protection Tracey Maulfair, WFP Coun­try Director and Represen­tative Finbarr Curran and representatives from the Fede­rally Administered Tribal Areas Secretariat and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government were also present.

The Japanese government has allocated $3m for the UNHCR to provide legal help to refugees and its programmes in education, healthcare and vocational training.

The amount, besides providing legal assistance to an estimated 22,500 refugees, will support about 50,000 refugees and communities hosting them in accessing healthcare and education, besides providing vocational training to 210 youths.

The remaining $4m will go to the WFP to support 82,389 beneficiaries, including 42,874 children six to 59 months of age and 39,515 pregnant and lactating women for six months.

The aid will help the WFP procure 1,097 tonnes of locally produced quality “ready-to-use supplementary foods” that will be distributed in Peshawar, Nowshera, Hangu and Kohat, identified as the districts hosting the highest number of Afghan refugees and host communities.

Mr Baloch said on the occasion that the Japanese aid was in line with the government’s priorities to ensure adequate nutritious food provision to Afghan refugees.

“The government was committed to ensuring food security and protection to the refugees,” he said.

The ambassador said the Japanese government attached great importance to supporting Afghan refugees and the communities which had provided shelter to them for more than three decades.

“With this grant from the people of Japan, assistance will be provided to host communities as well as Afghan refugees. I am sure that this assistance will significantly alleviate the burden on them.”

The acting UN resident and humanitarian coordinator thanked the Japanese government.