Geneva, 23 June 2022 (TDI): A scoping Mission from the UNDP Asia Pacific mission including Post Crises and Regional Recovery Advisor, Francisco Jara and George May participated in the UNDP Pakistan Mission session for Regional Connectivity.

This was a consultative session with security officers, academia, think tanks, and experts to discuss recommendations on regional connectivity between Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran.

UNHCR Pakistan team also participated in the session and was briefed on the upcoming study on regional stabilization and cross-border development, and explored partnership and collaboration opportunities of work with refugees and host communities in Pakistan.

This comprehensive session for the refugee community of Pakistan by two main Pakistan missions of UNDP and UNHCR is a follow-up Pakistani Prime Minister’s call for International Community to support UNHCR’s effort for refugees on World Refugee Day.

Afghan Refugees in Pakistan

According to a recent UN report, almost 1.4 million Afghan refugees live in Pakistan. Thousands of Afghans have fled their nation and settled in neighboring countries after the government transition in Afghanistan.

Since 2018, Pakistan has worked with UNHCR to offer health and education services to refugees, as well as identity cards to protect their interests and to improve social cohesion between refugees and host communities.

Since the Taliban takeover, Pakistan has resisted hosting more Afghan refugees as the country has been hosting the world’s one of the largest and oldest refugee populations. This has also hampered Pakistan’s already shaky economy.

However, according to some national sources, over 300,000 Afghans have entered Pakistan, with around 100,000 of them entering with official visas and the remainder crossing the border illegally.

UNHCR Pakistan works closely with the Government’s Ministry of State and Frontier Regions (SAFRON). Together UNHCR and SAFRON are plotting the future of the Afghan voluntary reparation program.

Recently, with the combined efforts of UNHCR, SAFRON, Pakistan’s National Database, and Registration Authority NADRA completed the verification of 1.3 million Afghan refugees in the country, issuing them a smart identity card.