NA committee recommends RAHA Programme extension to FATA

Islamabad—The National Assembly (NA) Standing Committee on States And Frontier Regions (SAFRON) has recommended to extend the Refugees Affected and Hosting Areas (RAHA) program to Federally Administer Tribal Areas (FATA) as they were hosting the Afghan refugees after 1980.
The NA Body on SAFRON met here on Thursday with MNA Muhammad Jamal ud Din in chair at Pak Secretariat and discussed the completed/ongoing development projects under the RAHA across the country.
MNA Ghalib Khan alongwith some other members of the Committee walked out of the meeting as a protest on the absence of Political Agents of Khyber Agency and South Waziristan Agency (SWA) and expressed that their right demands are not being addressed by the quarters concerned. They rejoined the meeting after given assurance by the Chairman Standing Committee that the concerned Political Agents would be called in the next meeting to brief the Committee on the agenda points.
The Committee was briefed on the development projects (Completed/on-going) in detail. The Committee recommended that the RAHA program should also be extended to FATA as the FATA in 1980 and onward have also been the hosting area of Afghan refugees. The Committee was also briefed on the repatriation process of Afghan refugees. The Committee was further informed that the government has given deadline which is December 31, 2016 for the repatriation of registered Afghan refugee’s on voluntarily basis. The Committee recommended the Federal Government to make soften the terms and conditions of visa for Afghan refugees and also establish additional voluntarily repatriation centers.
Refugee Affected and Hosting Areas (RAHA) has completed 534 different projects so far with the cost of Rs.5530 million in Khyber Pukhtunkhaw and Balochistan.
The RAHA was launched in 2009, it was a joint project of Ministry of SAFRON and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), this was stated by Secratry SAFRON while briefing the meeting of National Assembly Standing Committee on States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON).
More than 10.6 million people have benefited from Refugee Affected and Hosting Areas (RAHA) projects, of which, overall around 11 percent Afghan refugees while 89 percent have been Pakistani citizens in refugee hosting areas.
Representative of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) informed the body that January 2016 to August 25 around 60,000 Afghans refugees were voluntarily repatriated.
To a question he said that already federal government has announced that November 15, 2016 is last date for unregistered Afghans refugees to repatriate to their homeland, while register Afghans refugee till December 31, 2016.
The NA body has recommended that Pakistani government facilitate the Afghan nationals in visa relaxation specially in the field of health, education and business for the strong relationship with the neighbor countries.
Chairman Committee Jamal ud Din stressed on the government that it is the responsibility of SAFRON and its stakeholder that arrange the transport for those Pakistanis who are living in Afghanistan as a refugee.
Secretary SAFRON informed the committee that government is already providing the transport facility to the Pakistani people who wanted to come in the country.—APP

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