World abandons Afghan refugees

PRIME MINISTER Nawaz Sharif, who is in New York to attend UN General Assembly Session, has informed the world community that Pakistan has been serving as a generous host to millions of Afghan refugees for the past four decades – the largest protracted refugee situation in the world. Addressing the General Assembly’s first ever summit for Refugees and Migrants, he lamented that financial support from the international community has waned but Pakistan’s hospitality has not.
Pakistan has been hosting the world’s largest refugee population for a record period with serious implications for its society and economy. In the initial years, some countries and the United Nations provided a part of the expenditure required for maintenance of such a huge number but with the passage of time the aid has diminished. Now Pakistan is bearing the burden itself despite limited financial resources and strains on its economy due to unending war on terror. It is because of this and also due to other considerations that Pakistan has been urging the global community and Afghan government to take measures for repatriation of refugees to their homeland. So far Pakistan has laid emphasis on voluntary repatriation but the situation may not remain the same as there is widespread resentment among people about visible and invisible costs of hosting refugees for a long time. The international community must realize that besides Afghan refugees, Pakistan has to deal with millions of people displaced during war on terror. In fact, the world community should be forthcoming to assist Pakistan in rehabilitating IDPs as the country is fighting a war not only for the sake of its own security and peace but also that of the region and beyond. It is, therefore, high time that apart from provision of financial resources for upkeep of 2.5 million Afghan refugees, the donors’ community should also extend cooperation to Pakistan and Afghanistan for their ultimate return and rehabilitation in their homeland.

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