ISLAMABAD – Minister for SAFRON & Narcotics Control Shehryar Khan Afridi has urged the countries hosting refugees to adopt solution-oriented approach to mitigate the sufferings of refugees and evolve joint strategy to attract attention of those prosperous countries who are not fulfilling their commitments made under UN Charter.
Addressing a conference held here to commemorate the World Refugee Day 2019, the Minister said it was a pity that 85 percent of the refugees were being hosted by developing nations while the the developed countries were not sharing the burden despite having signatories of the UN convention on refugees.
UNHCR hosted the event largely attended by Afghan refugees, diplomats, journalists and officials from donor organizations. The event was marked by showcasing cultural heritage of Afghan refugees and plays and songs were played.
Before starting his speech, the minister requested the participants to observe one-minute silence for those refugees and migrants who lost their lives on their journey of displacement.
Lauding the UNHCR representative and her team to help the cause of Afghan refugees, the Minister said that the world is at a critical juncture as we today we are to address a very complex subject of refugees.
“The emerging and protracted situation such as that we have in Pakistan has a direct and indirect impact on political, socio-economic and environmental and security of the host countries. Let me emphasise that in overall world statistics, 40 percent protracted refugee situation is in Pakistan. But Pakistan, despite not being a signatory to 1951 and the 1967 conventions and protocols of the United Nations on Refugees, has never faltered on its commitment to helping refugees,” he said.
He said despite facing financial crunch situation, Pakistan has accommodated all the phases of influx of refugees that has been come regularly since 1980.
“This has been our cornerstone to accommodate all and sundry that are in need and who seek help. Over the period of 40 years, we have developed good practices that can be replicated by all actors in the ambit of humanitarianism,” he said and added that Pakistan despite its meagre resources, has provided protection, food, shelter and other necessities with excellent camp management, and adhered to principles to highest standard of hospitality with providing all provision of necessities in health and education and livelihood,” he said.
“Let me share that Pakistan is the first country to develop biometrics identity at access of the refugees. Even five-year-old child has biometrics and full identity under POR arrangement. I have a question to ask to all my friends and global partners. Is the burden, though we not call it a burden, is only the responsibility of the host country alone? Why the host country has to borne all the burden alone. Is the burden not to be shared by all other partners? Why those who claim of being champions of humanity are not to contribute and set an example for other to follow? Why the countries embroiled in their financial hardships have to strive an extra yard at the expense of its own population? Why the countries that host the protracted refugees issues are subject to further challenges?” Remarked the Minister.
Shehryar Afridi said it is high time that responsibility and burden sharing is realised and acted upon in the best interest of humanity and adherence to the universal principles of sacrifices and protocols of international norms.
“We need straight and committed answers from those who are in the position to contribute and contribute generously,” he argued.
The Minister said Afghans value their national pride and would always resist against any aggressor.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan and his team would give respect to Afghan refugees and would honour their traditions and culture. We will restore your pride and would help you get education, health and other facilities. What we need in return is respect for Pakistan, its people, its forces and its flag.
Why the world needs to find a body of a child at a coast to wake up to refugee issue,” he added.
He said it is a pity that only developing countries are catering to the 85 percent of refugee hosting across the globe while Pakistan amidst its financial crisis situation is hosting Afghan refugees for the past 40 years.
“Everyone has to contribute if we want global peace. In today’s world, governments are raising walls to stop immigrants. 68 percent refugees are living out of camps and are integrated into mainstream society. It is our responsibility to respects and cater to the needs of the refugees. We need to make to sensitise our governments towards the humanitarian issue of refugees,” he added.
“We need to start living for others. The message for the world is that Pakistan under its visionary leader Imran Khan. It’s the message of peace and shared responsibilities,” concluded the Minister.