ISLAMABAD: The Australian Government and IOM Pakistan have launched a two-year, AUD 4 million (USD 3 million) project to help undocumented Afghans in Pakistan and their host communities, as well as those returning to Afghanistan.
In 2016, an unprecedented number of Afghans returned to Afghanistan, mainly from Pakistan and Iran. They included over 250,000 undocumented returnees and over 380,000 registered refugees.
This year, as of June 20th, over 100,000 Afghans have returned home, including almost 70,000 undocumented returnees from Pakistan. This is a 250 percent increase over the number of returnees during the first six months of 2016.
Australia’s contribution will enable IOM and its partners to help the Government of Pakistan to develop sustainable solutions for the estimated 500,000-600,000 Afghan nationals still living in Pakistan.
“Australia is committed to partnerships, which promote stability in the region and to help the most vulnerable, particularly women and children,” said Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan Margaret Adamson.
The new Australian funding will also help IOM and its partners to monitor migration flows and conduct host community surveys to help the Pakistani and Afghan governments, humanitarian stakeholders and returning communities to make better-informed decisions relating to safe and humane migration.
IOM Pakistan will also use the funding to provide primary health care services and vocational business training for undocumented Afghans and host communities in Pakistan. This will help the Afghans to start new livelihoods and reintegrate when they return to Afghanistan, as well as provide new economic opportunities for host communities.
The funding will also help IOM to support the Government of Pakistan to implement its ‘Repatriation and Management Policy for Afghan Refugees,’ which includes the registration of undocumented Afghans living in Pakistan.
“IOM is fully committed to support tailored solutions for undocumented Afghans in Pakistan,” said IOM Pakistan Chief of Mission Davide Terzi. “Pakistan has been host to millions of Afghans for over 30 years, and it is imperative to devise comprehensive programmes that facilitate returns, create viable options for those that decide to stay and support the Pakistani host communities.”
As part of the IOM Regional Response Strategy, IOM Pakistan is seeking USD 21 million to support the most vulnerable undocumented Afghans during 2017-18.