PESHAWAR/NOWSHERA - United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi Saturday visited Afghan refugee camp Jalozai, Nowshera, and praised Pakistan for its hospitality being provided to the refugees.

He was accompanied by renowned model and actress Mahira Khan.

Expressing gratitude to Pakistan for assistance and help to Afghan refugees, Grandi urged world community to focus their attention towards displaced people of the globe.

He said that Afghan refugees still need assistance and cooperation, adding for the purpose resources should be made available for them.

He said that peace in Afghanistan is vital for the safe return of refugees to their homeland in a peaceful manner. Referring to law and order situation in Afghanistan, he said peace is inevitable in Afghanistan and stressed for taking positive steps towards political solution to the Afghan issue.

Talking to media men during his visit to Registration Centre of Afghan refugees in Nowshera, he lauded Pakistan for hosting Afghan refugees in a dignified way for over three decades. Grandi said more Afghan refugees are also ready to repatriate to Afghanistan.

Talking to the media, filmstar Mahira Khan stated that she feels happy to visit Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for the first time and meeting with Afghan refugees.

She further said that an overwhelming majority of Afghan refugees are children who she aims to educate and provide assistance to. “My work with the UNHCR has just begun,” she said.

“If this imperative issue is being highlighted better, if people are being much more aware if I’m present, then I’d love to contribute,” said Mahira. “More than half of the refugees are children. This is a huge thing because children are our future,” she added.

“If we come together and try to collectively try to help the situation, however, and whatever little way we can, we are only making the future of this world better.” Mahira said “I’m very honoured to be a part of this cause.”

Grandi also stated that Afghan refugees in Pakistan need facilitation in education, health and other sectors. He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan has taken notice of Afghan refugees issue and has vowed to resolve it by solving their problems.

When asked why she decided to be a part of this project, Mahira told journalists “Honestly for me it’s just paying it forward. Least I can do. It’s also making myself aware of what is happening around the world, beyond the bubble that I live in. Visiting the camps was an eye-opener.” Mahira has also been closely working with SKMH to raise awareness about breast cancer. “Basically SKMH and I go back a long time. And I’ve seen how I could make a difference there. I believe in them, I feel proud to be associated with them. Every year in October no matter what’s happening I take time out to raise awareness for breast cancer.”

Filippo Grandi also commended the charitable work of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, saying providing free-of-cost treatment to underprivileged cancer patients is a noble work.

“Hospitals like this are a symbol of hope for thousands of cancer patients who have little resources,” Grandi said during his visit to the hospital in Peshawar. The high commissioner was accompanied by UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock and filmstar Mahira Khan.

The UN refugee agency has provided high-tech machines worth Rs710 million ($6.2 million) for Peshawar’s Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital to support free-of-cost treatment to cancer patients, including Afghan refugees.

The radiotherapy machines will be fully operational by the end of this year. Radiotherapy uses high-energy radiation to break down cancer cells and treat tumours in the body. The UNHCR will also provide training to the technicians to operate the equipment effectively. The new cancer equipment will provide some 30,000 treatment sessions to both Pakistanis and Afghan refugees in 2019.

The high commissioner thanked the people and provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for currently hosting some 800,000 Afghan refugees in the spirit of Islamic values of hospitality and generosity.

“Such investments in health systems are a demonstration of solidarity and burden sharing by the international community with the people of Pakistan. The international community values Pakistan’s generous support to Afghan refugees despite facing internal challenges,” Grandi said.

Dr Faisal Sultan, Chief Executive Officer of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, appreciated the support from the UNHCR for the construction of the Emergency Assessment Unit and provision of the state-of-the-art equipment.

Sultan said: “The hospital has established itself as a centre of excellence providing comprehensive care free of cost to thousands of cancer patients regardless of their ethnicity or nationality. Doors are open for all, including Afghan refugees.”

The UNHCR constructed the emergency assessment room and provided other medical equipment to the Peshawar Shaukat Khanum Hospital in 2015.

Grandi also addressed the unveiling ceremony of medical equipment donated to the hospital. He praised Shaukat Khanum Hospital for providing best available medical treatment to patients.

The visiting dignitary said that objective of giving best medical care to patients cannot be achieved without having the necessary facilities. He said that SKMCH is persistently endeavouring to ensure provision of quality health care treatment to people.