ISLAMABAD - The Government of Japan has announced a contribution of $2.1 million to the support of Afghan refugees and their host communities in Pakistan.

Country’s Ambassador to Pakistan Kuninori Matsuda and UNHCR Representative in Pakistan Ms Ruvendrini Menikdiwela signed the agreement in this regard here on Tuesday.

The new funding will strengthen UNHCR’s interventions in the areas of education, healthcare, and water and sanitation – benefitting 70,000 refugees and host communities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Balochistan, Islamabad, Punjab and Sindh.

The project will be implemented under the Refugee Affected and Hosting Areas (RAHA) programme, which is being funded by the international donors in the spirit of burden and responsibility-sharing, and in recognition of Pakistan’s hospitality towards the Afghan refugees. Under the RAHA, a variety of projects are completed in the sectors of education, health, infrastructure, water, sanitation and social protection.

Speaking on the occasion, Ms Ruvendrini Menikdiwela said the project would increase the availability of potable water in communities currently hosting Afghan refugees as water scarcity, especially in Balochistan, had impacted the lives of people.

She commended the people and Government of Japan for the contribution, which, she said, would provide room to the UNHCR to continue assisting the vulnerable refugees in accessing better primary healthcare and educational facilities.

Speaking on the occasion, Kuninori Matsuda noted that “the Government of Japan greatly appreciates the tremendous efforts and commendable hospitality of the Government of Pakistan for the Afghan refugees for four decades. “I hope that this aid will not only provide the Afghan refugees and the host communities access to education, healthcare, water and sanitation facilities, but will also further strengthen the existing good relations between Japan and Pakistan.” The ambassador added, “The Government of Japan is also pleased to continue supporting the UNHCR to assist the Government of Pakistan in its efforts to provide basic facilities to the Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan.”  The Government of Japan is UNHCR’s fifth largest government donor worldwide.