ISLAMABAD                -              The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has decided to give a relief package to Afghan refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) whose livelihoods have been severely disturbed due to the partial lockdown enforced across the country.

State Minister for States & Frontier Regions (SAFRON) Shehryar Khan Afridi on Tuesday told The Nation that Prime Minister Imran Khan has issued directives to the authorities concerned asking them to prepare a relief package for Afghan refugees and IDPs during the cabinet meeting. He stressed that these two segments of society were severely affected due to the partial lockdown in the country and a mechanism was being formed to help both through the government’s poverty alleviation Ehsaas Programme.

“I had personally requested the PM, that the government should take care of the miseries of Afghan refugees and the IDPS,” he said, adding that the government agreed to his proposal.

Earlier on Tuesday, while talking to a group of media personnel, Shehryar Afridi said that around 2.8 million Afghan refugees had been living in 52 refugee camps across the country. “Out of which 80 percent are daily wagers.” Afridi stressed that it was United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)’s moral obligation to help Afghan refugees in this hour of need. “IDPs left their home for the safety of Pakistan, and the country will also not leave them alone in this testing time,” he said while talking about those families who were forced to leave their homes due to security reasons; most of them belonged to the erstwhile tribal areas of the country.

The state minister said that he was planning to visit seven merged districts of erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and Afghan camps in Karachi, Hyderabad and Mianwali to deliver ration packages among daily wagers, internally displaced persons and refugees. He further mentioned that he had been urging philanthropists to contribute for this cause.

Earlier on weekend, Afridi had stepped up efforts to provide food and ration supplies to Afghan refugees trapped in the partial shutdown.

In this regard, he had written a letter to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) urging the world organization to accelerate relief efforts and provide food ration to the refugee families.       

According to estimates, there are around 3.5 million Afghans living across Pakistan out of which only 1.8 million are registered with the government, said an earlier statement issued by the Ministry of SAFRON. The rest are illegal immigrants who are yet to register themselves with authorities concerned, the ministry added.