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The recent momentum of voluntary returns to Afghanistan of Afghan refugees was encouraging, said Minister SAFRON, Lt. General Abdul Quadir Baloch,today. He underscored the need for greater international solidarity and assistance to the refugee hosting communities in Pakistan. While Afghan refugees have been welcomed in Pakistan, local communities have shared education, healthcare and livelihoods with their Afghan brothers and sisters. These areas must be reinforced with international assistance to provide relief to the refugee hosting communities.

The Minister was participating in the Ad hoc Quadripartite Steering Committee Meeting on Afghan refugees in Geneva. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr. Filippo Grandi, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Chief Executive Officer of Afghanistan, Mr. Hossein Zolfaghari, Deputy Interior Minister of Iran, and Mr. Hussain Alemi Balkhi, Minister for Refugees and Repatriation of Afghanistanalso participated in the meeting.

Minister SAFRON reiterated that voluntary return of Afghan refugees would continue in dignity and with honour. He appreciated the policies of the Afghan government to welcome the returning refugees from Pakistan.

High Commissioner Grandi thanked Pakistan and Iran for providing protection to millions of Afghan refugees for nearly four decades. He added that the high-level meetings on the refugee issue in New York in September, had paved the way for participation of development actors in refugee situations to relieve the burden on the hosting communities.

Afghanistan’s Chief Executive, Dr. Abdullah Abdullahthanked Pakistan and Iran for hosting Afghan refugees. He informed the participants that the needs of returnees were factored into Afghanistan’s Citizens Charter. The Afghan government remained committed to providing land, adequate housing, social services, vocational training and jobs to their returning nationals. He appealed for greater assistance by the international community to the efforts of the Afghan Government.

7 October 2016

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