ISLAMABAD,           -              Amid lock down situation due to Coronavirus pandemic, Minister for States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) Shehryar Khan Afridi has stepped up efforts to provide food and ration supplies to Afghan refugees trapped in the lock down.  Shehryar Afridi wrote letters to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and urged the world organisation to accelerate relief efforts and provide food ration to the Afghan refugee families trapped in lock down across Pakistan, a press release said.           Minister Afridi along with Cricket superstar Shahid Afridi on Friday visited Afghan Refugees’ camp in Kohat and oversaw the distribution of food packages to one thousand Afghan Refugees families affected by the lockdown. The food supplies were provided by Shahid Afridi Foundation. Shehryar Afridi appealed to the people that in these difficult times, every Pakistani has to remember the weak and the poor segments of the society who may not get food due to lock down situation. On the occasion, Shahid Afridi said Afghan refugees were our brothers and Pakistanis stand side by side with Afghan families in these testing times. He said that the Afghan brothers should not be forgotten in this difficult times.

Meanwhile, in line with the request of Shehryar Afridi, the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR has started dispatching core relief items in support of the Government of Pakistan’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The relief items include medical supplies and sanitation products such as sanitary clothes, soap and disinfectants. These packages will be provided to health facilities in support of refugees and host communities in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab.

Four trucks carrying some of the many items left from UNHCR’s central warehouse in Nowshera, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; destined for Balochistan. More items will be delivered next week. “UNHCR is committed to supporting the Government’s COVID-19 prevention and response measures,” said the UNHCR Deputy Representative in Pakistan, Iain Hall.

He said that the Agency’s priority is to contribute to the overall effort to minimize the spread and impact of the virus. It will provide medical supplies and consumables including personal protective equipment (PPE), which will be delivered to support the people of Pakistan and the Afghan refugees that they have so generously hosted for forty years.

UNHCR is currently focusing interventions in three main areas: prevention and response; water and sanitation; and risk communication. The Commissionerate of Afghan Refugees (Ministry of SAFRON) and UNHCR’s NGO partners are amplifying the Government’s messages and reminders based on WHO guidance on COVID-19 infection prevention and control, including self-hygiene and social distancing.

Meanwhile, the Refugee Rights Network Pakistan (RRN) has highly appreciated the efforts by Minister SAFRON Shehryar Afridi for helping the Afghan refugees in testing times.

In a statement, RRN also lauded the great gesture by Shahid Afridi Foundation for distributing ration to 1000 Afghan refugees in Kohat in response to the appeal of Minister Shehryar Afridi. The agency hoped that more people would come forward to respond to the appeal made by state minister SAFRON Mr. Shehryar Afridi for supporting Poor and needy Afghan refugees during this testing time.

“RRN Pakistan extends its gratitude to the minister and federal government for all its commitment for care and protection of Afghan refugees in Pakistan,” the statement concluded.