ISLAMABAD - Pakistan, in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees will host an International Conference next week to mark four decades of the Afghan refugees in the country.

The two-day conference, “40 years of Afghan Refugees Presence in Pakistan: A New Partnership for Solidarity”, will be held in February 17-18.

The conference will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad, a Foreign Ministry statement said. 

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, Ministers and senior officials from around 20 countries, who have been supporting the Afghan refugees across the globe and in Pakistan, will be participating. 

In addition, senior level participation is expected from United Nations, multilateral developments banks, civil society and private sector.  

This conference is taking place at an important juncture when efforts at consolidating peace in Afghanistan are making progress.

In December, forty years since the onset of the Afghan displacement crisis, leaders from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran along with UNHCR and refugee representatives had gathered in Geneva to launch a new Support Platform for the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees on the margins of the inaugural Global Refugee Forum.

Besides providing an opportunity to highlight the exemplary compassion, generosity and hospitality exhibited by Pakistan, in hosting one of the largest refugee populations in the world, the conference will further identify key developments and milestones in the 40 years long evolution of the Afghan refugee situation; reflect on the lessons learned; identify the challenges; and discuss solutions for voluntary, dignified and sustainable repatriation of refugees to Afghanistan, the statement said.

Pakistan is confident that the conference will reinforce international efforts as agreed to in the UN Global Compact on Refugees and Global Refugee Forum to bring about a renewed focus on the Afghan refugees. 

“It will also help in building a positive narrative on refugees, especially at a time when borders are being closed on them and millions are being made stateless under nationalistic and ideological pretences,” added the statement.