Islamabad - The government of Japan has announced a contribution of $7 million to the UN 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 (SAFRON) Abdul Qadir Baloch and Japan Ambassador Takashi Kurai here on Thursday.

Acting UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Indrika Ratwatte, UNHCR Assistant Representative (Protection) Tracey Maulfair, WFP Country Director and Representative  Finbarr Curran and representatives from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) Secretariat and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government were also present.

The government of Japan has allocated $ 3 million to UNHCR for implementation of its priority interventions in the provision of legal assistance to refugees and its programmes in the areas of education, healthcare and vocational training. This contribution will, in addition to providing legal assistance to an estimated 22,500 refugees in Pakistan, support an estimated 50,000 persons from the refugees and the communities hosting them in accessing healthcare and education as well as some 210 youths who will be undergoing vocational training courses throughout Pakistan. 

The government of Japan has allocated the remaining $ 4 million to the WFP to support 82,389 beneficiaries including 42,874 children of 6 to 59 months of age and 39,515 pregnant and lactating women over a period of six months. It will enable WFP to procure a total of 1,097 metric tons of locally produced quality “ready-to-use supplementary foods” that will be distributed in four districts of KP —Peshawar, Nowshera, Hangu and Kohat — hosting the highest number of Afghan refugees and host communities.

Speaking at the occasion, Qadir Baloch said that “the interventions are in line with the government of Pakistan’s priorities to ensure adequate nutritious food provision to Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan. The government of Pakistan is committed to maintaining food security and protection of the Afghan population living in Pakistan. The government of Japan has been an active partner of the government of Pakistan in supporting the refugees. The ministry of SAFRON will be working in close liaison with UNHCR and WFP to provide continuous support to Afghan refugees and host communities in Pakistan”.

 Japan Ambassador Kurai said “the government of Japan attaches great importance to supporting Afghan refugees and their host communities which have provided shelters so much needed 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. Japan has been assisting Afghan refugees in Pakistan and their host communities for more than ten years with the grant aid of more than USD 200 million. I hope this grant aid will be fully utilized and put positive impact, particularly, on the young generations and thus the future of Afghan refugees and host communities.”

UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Ratwatte expressed gratitude to the government and people of Japan for demonstrating their commitment and supporting the uprooted people. “Japan has always been a strong supporter of the global humanitarian efforts,” Ratwatte said, adding with this contribution, the WFP and UNHCR will be able to provide meaningful support and assistance to those in need”.

WFP Country Director Curran said that “the government of Japan has been a key partner in ensuring food security and nutrition for temporarily displaced Pakistanis as well as Afghan refugees . This contribution will provide timely support for the tri-party agreement, between Governments of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, for the sustainable return of Afghan refugees to their country of origin. WFP foresees that the investment in nutrition will have a positive long term impact on the economic development of both countries”.