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Refugee Affected and Hosting Areas project enhances skills capacity, monthly income of Pakistani communities hosting refugees

Islamabad, April 28, 2016 (PPI-OT):The UN Refugee Agency and Aik Hunar Aik Nagar (AHAN) organised a one-day exhibition with the theme ‘Homemade’ to showcase and promote the handicraft products made by Pakistani communities and Afghan refugees at Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA).

As part of UNHCR’s youth empowerment interventions under the Refugee Affected and Hosting Areas (RAHA) programme, AHAN trained some 1,000 individuals including Pakistanis and Afghan refugees which resulted in the increase of their monthly income by 30 per cent.

The UN Refugee Agency through Aik Hunar Aik Nagar (AHAN) launched a Skill Enhancement and Livelihood Initiative (SELI) in districts Peshawar, Nowshera, Charsadda and Mardan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province to support skills development and income generation of the most vulnerable people. The selected beneficiaries received trainings in block printing, frame based weaving, jewellery making, filling stitch, handloom weaving, leather and crochet embroidery.

In order to highlight the work of the trainees, AHAN and Commissionerate Afghan Refugees Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and UNHCR organized a handmade product exhibition. The opening ceremony was held on Wednesday at Pakistan National Council of Arts and the exhibition will be open for general public until 28 April, Thursday. UNHCR Representative in Pakistan Indrika Ratwatte, famous Fashion Designer Rizwan Beyg and diplomats from different countries attended the event.

Under the project worth PKR. 50.8 million funded by the United States and Germany, 50 community based skills training centres were established in different Union Councils of the above mentioned four districts in which some 1,000 beneficiaries including 727 Pakistanis and 273 Afghan refugees were given skills training. They were provided marketing/business development training sessions to enhance their entrepreneurial skills and developed market linkages through exposure visits.

Project like Skills Enhancement and Livelihood Initiative (SELI) is a ray of hope for the most vulnerable people of the society. Sheema, 19, is one of the trainees who is learning new skills. “I am visually and hearing-impaired but I am confident to start my income generating activity at home by preparing shirts and scarfs and I will be able to support my family,” Sheema, a resident of Nowshera said.

Speaking at the occasion, UNHCR Representative in Pakistan, Indrika Ratwatte reiterated that investment in Pakistani and Afghan youth equals to investment in peace and sustainable development in both countries. “We support youth empowerment through a nexus of inter-linked interventions in the areas of education, skills training and livelihood support,” he said.

He underlined the need for empowering refugees with marketable skills so they could play a role while in exile as well as when they return to their countries. The project left a considerable impact on the social cohesion between Afghan refugee and Pakistani communities as both communities have started joint products and shared the profits.

RAHA is a programme that recognizes Pakistan’s longstanding hospitality towards refugees. The initiative is aimed at supporting host communities and providing them with quality services in the sectors of health, education, water and sanitation and livelihoods across the country. The RAHA programme is a major component of the regional Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR) endorsed by Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and UNHCR in May 2012.

To date, more than 10.6 million people (11 per cent Afghan refugees and 89 per cent Pakistani citizens) have benefited from some 3,500 projects implemented across the country with a total cost of approximately USD 175 million.

For more information, contact:
Duniya Aslam Khan
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Quaid-e-Azam University Road, Diplomatic Enclave 2,
Sector G-4/2, Islamabad
Tel: +92-51-2829502-6
Cell: +92-300-5017939
Fax: +92-51-2279455
E-mail: khand@unhcr.org
Website: www.unhcr.org.pk

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