Says US recognises Pakistan’s generosity for hosting Afghan refugees for nearly 40 years
ISLAMABAD: US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees and Migration Nancy Izzo Jackson Thursday said that the United States (US) would continue to provide humanitarian assistance to all refugee-hosting countries, including Pakistan.
Besides that, it would also make sincere efforts to create an environment in Afghanistan conducive to voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees, she told a select gathering of journalists here at the US embassy while expressing her inability to give any timeframe for their honourable and safe return.
She said that Pakistan would not be left alone in its efforts to provide security, food and shelter to the Afghan refugees. She added that America had asked the World Bank to create a new facility to be participated by other countries to meet the requirements of the refugees.
Pakistan is eligible to avail this facility, she said.
The official also said that some $2.9 billion had been provided to Pakistan by her government as humanitarian assistance for the refugees since 2002, and $214 million was spent under that head in 2017.
During her ongoing visit to Pakistan, Nancy Jackson held discussions with Federal Minister for States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) Lieutenant General (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch, Chief of General Staff General Bilal Akbar Bajwa and other senior officials at the ministries of foreign affairs and interior, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
She also met Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Dr Omar Zakhilwal.
She recognised Pakistan’s generosity for hosting one of the largest, most-protracted refugee populations in the world for nearly 40 years. She encouraged the Pakistani government to work with UNHCR and the Afghan government on a plan that supported voluntary, sustainable, and dignified repatriation of Afghan refugees.
Nancy, a career member of the senior executive service, scheduled to leave for Afghanistan on Saturday, said that she had earlier visited Pakistan from May 31 to June 3 last year.
Responding to a query, she said that hosting refugees for four decades was quite a long period but refugees should not be considered a security threat. She was of the view that all the refugees should not be punished for the misdeeds of a few.
She also said that Pakistan was eager to repatriate the Afghan refugees and she was happy to note that Pakistan’s cabinet had extended tenure of the proof of registration cards for another two months.
The US is keen to have stability in Afghanistan and is making sincere efforts to carry out development there to help the safe and voluntary return of the refugees, she added.
To a question about the financial immigration, she said that every country had to deal with the immigration laws and controls but the children of the refugees who were born in Pakistan and doing businesses were by default refugees. Their parents could get them registered on their cards, she added.
“We share Pakistan’s hope that all refugees will return to their country honourably, safely and with dignity,” Nancy said, adding, “We are trying to create an environment that is conducive for their repatriation.”
Responding to a question, the official said that the Afghan government was cooperating with Pakistan in the process of registration of the refugees. She also pointed out that despite the unfavourable conditions in Afghanistan, refugees had been returning throughout the yesteryear.
She said that Pakistan and US were partners in their enduring commitment to humanitarian assistance, believing that they have a responsibility to help those who are suffering from violence, persecution or conflict.
You guys better spend that money on refugees and building positive relations with Afghanistan now!
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