US to contribute $8.9m for Pak hosting communities, Afghan refugees

Islamabad:,,, US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson has announced that the US government plans to contribute $8.9 million to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for the joint Government of Pakistan and UN Refugee Affected and Hosting Areas (RAHA) program at a reception at the US Embassy on the eve of World Refugee Day.

RAHA is a key part of the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR) signed by UNHCR and the governments of Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan in May 2012.

Olson highlighted the US government’s support for Afghan refugees and Pakistani hosting communities and thanked the Government of Pakistan for its efforts to provide protection for refugees until they can return home in safety and dignity. Since 1979, Pakistan generously has hosted a shifting population of Afghan refugees.

“The United States recognizes the Government of Pakistan and the Pakistani people for generously hosting one of the world’s largest refugee populations for over three decades. Pakistan today hosts 1.6 million Afghan refugees. Few other countries could or would bear this burden as graciously as Pakistan continues to do,” said Olson.

The United States provides a new home for tens of thousands of the world’s most vulnerable refugees each year. In fiscal year (FY) 2013, the US Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration resettled nearly 70,000 refugees from 65 countries. The United States admits more refugees for permanent resettlement than all other nations combined. The United States has already accepted 166 refugees from Pakistan in FY 2014, surpassing the figure of 156 refugees accepted from Pakistan in FY 2013.

The United States is the single largest international donor for humanitarian assistance to victims of the Afghan conflict. In FY 2014, the United States is providing $80 million to international organizations to assist Afghan refugees, returnees, and hosting communities in the region.

The United States also funds non-governmental organizations providing these populations with education, health care, legal services, and skills training.

This funding is part of the United States’ long-term commitment to Afghan refugee protection, repatriation, and reintegration support. Since 2002, the U.S. Department of State has provided over $950 million to this effort.

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