ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday called for revalidating the principle of shared responsibility and burden sharing for the large refugee-hosting countries like Pakistan.
The foreign minister was addressing a high-level Webinar hosted by the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to discuss the situation of Refugees and Other Displaced Persons during the Pandemic and the need for international cooperation.
Qureshi was joined by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the Foreign Ministers of Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Austria (ex-FM), the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, and the Deputy Director-General of WHO.
While sharing that Pakistan has provided protection, offered opportunities for education, health, livelihoods, vocational training, and social mobility to millions of Afghan refugees for over four decades, he added that the presence of three million Afghans is a clear illustration of Pakistani generosity, compassion, and hospitality.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi referred to the compassionate and holistic approach of the government of Pakistan to combat the impacts of COVID-19 including the US$ 8 billion relief package announced by Prime Minister Imran Khan. No State can handle the magnitude of this crisis, he added.
The foreign minister presented a seven-point agenda to enable large refugee-hosting countries to combat COVID-19 wherein he highlighted the need for adequate financing of UNHCR’s Refugee Response Plans; continuity of regular support for refugees to host countries; provision of “liquidity” and necessary fiscal space for large refugee-hosting countries; supporting the services infrastructure in the host countries; immediate provision of medicines and equipment; equal treatment of protracted large refugee situations with the newly emerging ones; ceasing of any hostilities or conflict, and ceasefire in the countries of origin of the refugees and continued work on the creation of “pull” factors for return and reintegration of refugees.
Qureshi stressed that since the virus did not differentiate on the basis of nationalities, race, religion, ethnicity, or color, the international community especially the UN must not differentiate in different categories of Afghans in Pakistan in extending support.