Sindh Chief Minister urges United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to expired repatriation of Afghan refugee

Karachi, December 08, 2016 (PPI-OT):Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that the province of Sindh has been hosting Afghan refugees, registered and unregistered, from the last 37 years but now their repatriation should be expedited for certain issues, including law and order situation.

This he said while talking to United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees Mr. Indrika Ratwattee who met him along with his delegation here at the CM House today. The delegation members include, Mr. Yua Deputy Chief UNHCR, Mr Imran Zaib Chief Commissioner for Afghan Refugees, Islamabad, Mr Johann Siffointe deputy Representative of UUNHCR, Younis Sahibzada Head of UNHC Field office Karachi, Ghazanfar Ali Agha Commissioner Afghan Refugees and Mr Syed Bilal Agha Field Associate UNHCR Field office Karachi. The chief minister was assisted by IG Sindh AD Khowja, Principal Secretary Naveed Kamran Baloch and Home Secretary Shakeel Mangnijo.

The chief minister said a large number of Afghan refugees have settled in the province of Sindh, particularly in Karachi and its adjoining areas from last 37 years. “Sindh government is hosting them with open heart and spending lot of its resources meant for our people on them,” he said and added that the province of Sindh has been facing worst law and order situation from last many years but now it has been improved after taking drastic measures and launching targeted operation.

He said that the Apex Committee, the highest forum to implement National Action Plan (NAP) in the province had decided to repatriate all illegal immigrants, including Afghanis. The federal government was approached to expedite their repatriation but the federal government on the request of UNHCR had delayed repatriation for six months means unto the end December 2016. Syed Murad Ali Shah urged the UNHCR to take necessary measures and make arrangements to repatriate them so that provincial government could move forward in implementing the decisions taken in the Apex Committee meetings.

The UNHCR, Mr Indrika Ratwatee said that there were around 600,000 Afghan refugees living in Pakistan, of them around 1.3 million are in Sindh on which Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah did not agree. He said that the repatriation process was in progress and everyday around 2000 Afghan nationals return to their homeland. He added that KPK was the only province from where 350,000 Afghan nationals have returned to Afghanistan so far and the Punjab is the second largest province to have repatriated a good number of refugees but from Sindh only 32,000 Afghanis have returned so far.

Giving details of the repatriation of large number of refugees from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the UNHCR chief said that they usually remain in touch with their people back in Afghanistan. Moreover, they are close to their country from there. As far as Sindh is concerned, he said that Karachi has vast employment opportunities and the refugees are far away from their country border.

The chief minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah said that there was a large number of unregistered Afghan nationals living in Sindh. He urged the UNHCR to get them registered so that Sindh government must know who is who and where is lives. “We spend on their food {subsidy}, they are using our utilities and even their children are receiving education in our government schools,” he said and added that being host community Sindh has taken proper care of Afghan national but in return “our people have suffered a lot in the shape of terrorism – you know well and I don’t want to go into details,” he said.

The UNHCR chief said that they have allocated $175 million for education and health of the refugees, out of the sanctioned amount $30 million have been earmarked for Sindh. “You can spend this amount on the education, health and other social services of the Afghan refugees living in your province,” he told the chief minister. The chief minister directed his home secretary to coordinate with UNHCR for registration of all the Afghanis living in the province and with their support and coordination make arrangements to repatriate them.

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