NEW YORK: Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi has urged the international community to prioritize the issue of Afghan refugees and help Pakistan and Afghanistan in their repatriation and resettlement in an honourable and sustainable manner.
Speaking in the ECOSOC’s Humanitarian Affairs Segment, she also called on the global community to better appreciate Pakistan’s hospitality and its challenges in hosting the most protracted presence of refugees anywhere in the world.
Pakistan, she pointed out, has been hosting over three million Afghan refugees for nearly four decades.
Describing the current global humanitarian crisis as “truly unprecedented”, she said the humanitarian landscape had changed dramatically in recent years.
Ambassador Lodhi reminded the UN body that today “A record 130 million people in different parts of the world need humanitarian assistance.” “ With armed conflicts raging in so many regions and the ever-increasing frequency and ferocity of natural disasters, the number of forcibly displaced people has also reached the record number of 65 million” ,she added.
The Pakistani envoy also voiced concern over the funding gap in humanitarian assistance that has increased to a massive $ 10 billion a year. She said that while the inter-agency appeals for assistance have reached $20 billion, humanitarian financing was coming under increasing and severe strain.
She voiced Pakistan’s support for the UN Secretary General’s call to double the volume of the Central Emergency Response Fund by 2018. Calling CERF as “one of the most effective tools of the global humanitarian response system”, she said this has helped save countless lives since its inception in 2006”.
Welcoming the renewed emphasis on addressing the root causes of displacement and forced migration, Ambassador Lodhi said that “unless we resolutely put out the fires of wars and conflicts which have caused so much suffering we will not be able to find a long-term solution to this crisis.”
“Therefore, the international community’s commitment to resolve and prevent armed conflicts, strengthen disaster risk reduction in developing countries and enhance the level of financial assistance to bridge the widening gap in humanitarian funding are positive developments”, she asserted.
Ambassador Lodhi urged the member states to take advantage of the upcoming September Summit on large-scale movement of refugees and migrants and use it as an opportunity to galvanize greater international support to address the unprecedented humanitarian challenges of our times.
She said this “will also provide an opportunity to make an unequivocal pronouncement against all forms of xenophobia, especially when directed against those desperately seeking protection and asylum”.
Ambassador Lodhi concluded by calling for collective action to alleviate the suffering of those caught up in humanitarian crises around the world. “There is no one-size fit all solution. But let us resolve that our response to the world’s weak and vulnerable is based on compassion and a spirit of brotherhood”, she said.