June 9, 2021| Press Releases|
Minister for SAFRON, Sahibzada Muhammad Mehboob Sultan,
Chairman NDMA, Lieutenant General Akhtar Nawaz,
UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Julien Harneis,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to welcome you to this joint launch event of “Pakistan’s Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for the year 2021.”
I wish to acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of all stakeholders involved in the preparation of the HRP – both from the side of the Government, as well as the UN Country Team in Pakistan.
I would start by paying tribute to the fearless frontline workers who are associated with the humanitarian response in various situations confronting the country, whether it is dealing with a natural disaster, or the health pandemic.
The Government of Pakistan remains fully committed to the provision of basic necessities and services to all residents of the country, in all situations, without any discrimination. We are devising and implementing policies to make steady progress in the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – notwithstanding the disruptions and challenges arising from climate-induced natural calamities as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.
The policies of our Government are guided by two important principles: “Inclusivity” and “Sustainability.” We are striving to ensure that our efforts take into consideration the aspects of efficient and effective response to humanitarian situations, followed by inclusive recovery and sustainable rehabilitation.
I am pleased to note that the HRP that we are launching today is holistic, with a multi-sectoral approach, covering the areas of health, education, protection, food security, shelter, WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene), and refugees.
This Response Plan is intended to strengthen Pakistan’s capacity in the prevention, preparedness and response to disasters including through the provision of relief services by building cross-institutional and stakeholder linkages.
The central message of “leaving no one behind” resonates loud and clear throughout the HRP, whether it is persons with disabilities, refugees, asylum seekers or any other vulnerable group.
Gender and youth are two important stakeholders, and normally among the most vulnerable groups in any situation. These two categories are adequately factored into the Plan and appear as cross cutting themes throughout the HRP.
An important take-away from the HRP is the co-relation between development and effective humanitarian response. By supporting the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and efforts to achieve its Goals, we strengthen the resilience of the nation to respond to any emergency. Pakistan’s HRP offers a good framework for international cooperation on SDGs.
In line with our Government’s vision, monitoring and accountability are also important pillars of the HRP, from project evaluation to the implementation stage.
Since last year, the world has been confronted by a common enemy – the COVID-19 pandemic. For many developed States, it might only be a public health emergency, but for the developing States, it is also a fight to save the people from hunger and poverty. Pakistan has spearheaded initiatives such as the Prime Minister’s Debt Relief Initiative, to enable developing countries to cope with this unprecedented challenge. Pakistan has also been advocating affordable and equitable vaccine procurement and distribution.
Nationally, we have been following a multi-pronged strategy, focusing on the health as well as socio-economic aspects. A national coordination mechanism was established, which continues to guide our COVID-19 response, based on evidence and scientific methodology.
We are following a people-centric approach. The Government undertook the largest cash disbursement scheme of its kind in the country’s history under the Ehsas program, delivering Rs. 12,000 per household to over 15 million deserving families, supporting them to cope with the economic shocks of the virus.
Last year, a “Pakistan Preparedness and Response Plan” for COVID-19 was launched. We are thankful to our international partners for showing solidarity with us and supporting that Plan. It helped us in mitigating the health and other socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.
We are presently undertaking efforts for universal vaccination, without any discrimination – a daunting challenge – but our resolve remains unequivocal. We are confident of achieving our goal of vaccination for all.
Climate Change poses an existential threat to humankind. Whilst Pakistan remains one of the low carbon emitters, we are faced with climate risks not of our making. Pakistan is ranked 5th most climate vulnerable country according to Global Climate Risk Index.
As part of efforts to counter Climate Change, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s billion tree tsunami project was implemented in KP province, which has been internationally recognized as a best practice. We are now endeavouring to plant 10 billion trees across the country.
Pakistan was the proud global host of the World Environment Day 2021, celebrated in Islamabad on 5 June 2021. We see it as recognition of Pakistan’s strong credentials based on our swift transition towards a “clean and green Pakistan” through a well-articulated climate change and environmental agenda consisting of a number of flagship initiatives on the ground.
As part of their international commitment, the developed countries and international financial institutions should support our efforts for mitigation, adaptation and disaster risk reduction.
We are aiming at forging partnerships in the field of agriculture, health, renewable technologies, building resilience of the host communities and businesses, and strengthening institutional capabilities to predict and respond to emergencies.
Before turning to Afghan refugees, I want to commend UN High Commissioner Grandi for his personal commitment to the cause.
Pakistan’s story of caring for refugees is shaped by the humane values of our people; the values of generosity, compassion and hospitality in the face of serious economic and other challenges. When refugees came knocking, we opened our hearts and homes for them.
Inclusive treatment has been granted to all categories of Afghans during the pandemic as well, with full access to hospitals, doctors, paramedics and medicines.
Based on our belief that “no one is safe until everyone is safe”, our vaccination drive is fully inclusive, catering for Pakistani and non-Pakistani citizens alike, including Afghan refugees.
The scale of the protracted Afghan refugee situation requires revalidating the principle of “responsibility and burden sharing.” There is a need for renewed commitments and pledges to bridge the gap between the rising number of refugees and the dwindling resources available for their protection and well-being. We must unite to help the refugees and find durable solutions for their early and orderly repatriation.
The HRP offers an action plan to manage humanitarian situations as well as work for the achievement of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. It entails reinforcing existing partnerships, forging new ones, and encouraging support of the international community for our national efforts.
I want to also add my deep appreciation for the Resident Coordinator, Mr. Julien Harneis, and his team, especially the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, for their close coordination with the Government of Pakistan in devising this comprehensive Response Plan.
I thank you all for your participation.
Last modified: June 9, 2021
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