Chaghi, January 28, 2016 (PPI-OT): The UN refugee agency has handed over three different projects, worth Rs.51 million in the areas of health, education and water supply schemes to the provincial authorities of Balochistan, which were upgraded under the Refugee Affected and Hosting Areas (RAHA) Initiative in Chaghi, Balochistan on Tuesday.
IMG-20160127-WA0005The Refugee Affected and Hosting Areas (RAHA) initiative serves as an important vehicle for improving access to and quality services for both Afghan refugees and their host communities. In 2015 alone, nearly 1 million people (23 % of whom are Afghan refugees) benefitted from 62 RAHA humanitarian projects. The initiative is part of the 2012 regional Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR), which is aimed at finding solutions for Afghan refugees in the region over several years.
The projects inaugurated and handed over included a newly constructed Emergency Centre building in Yak Mach by Chaghi Development Organization, construction and rehabilitation of schools by Azat Foundation and installation and construction of water tanks and water pumps in six villages in district Chaghi by Taraqee Foundation.
UNHCR Representative in Pakistan Indrika Ratwatte inaugurated and handed over the improved facilities to the provincial authorities during his day long visit to District Chaghi that hosts 27,000 Afghan refugees. Mr. Ratwatte was accompanied by UNHCR Deputy Representative Johann Siffointe, Head of UNHCR Quetta, Dinesh Shrestha and Ghazanfar Ali Agha, Commissioner for Afghan Refugees Balochistan and Sindh.
Under the RAHA programme UNHCR funded the construction of a Community Emergency Project in Yak Mach that will benefit approximately 12,400 host and refugee residents of District Chaghi. Additionally the much needed medical equipment and training for the staff were also part of the project. The completed unit has been handed over to the provincial health department.
UNHCR Representative also inaugurated a school for boys which was rehabilitated under the RAHA program. A total of 03 boys and 02 girls’ school and a Girls college in Dalbandin were improved by constructing additional classrooms, boundary walls, latrines, computer labs and provision of school supplies. UNHCR estimates that some 2300 students, both Afghans and Pakistanis will benefit from the projects.
“UNHCR values education because we believe every child should be in school and we work to provide them with access to quality education so they can build a future for themselves and their community”, said Indrika Ratwatte. He added that in 2015, 39 percent of RAHA projects were in the sector of education. Ratwatte stressed on adopting a comprehensive and joint efforts by all stakeholders (including development actors) to ensure access to quality primary education and opportunities for skills development of the youth both in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Mr Ratwatte lauded the generosity and contribution of Pakistan to the global refugee cause and said the country deserves full recognition and support by the international community, particularly at the time of increased pushbacks of refugees, asylum fatigue and diminishing solidarity.
During a busy day in Chaghi, the UNHCR Representative also inaugurated a water supply project, which will provide water to some 1700 people in five different villages of the district. The project includes construction of water tanks, installation of 5 solar pumping system with pipe networking and taps stands and installation of hand pumps.
Pakistan has been home to millions of Afghans for the past three decades and, although more than 3.9 million have returned home, since 2002 around 1.5 million registered Afghan refugees still live in Pakistan. RAHA is a multi-year joint initiative launched in 2009 between the Government of Pakistan, represented by the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) and the Economic Affairs Division (EAD) in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Statistics, a consortium of UN agencies, a number of Government organisations and nongovernmental organisations.
Since its commencement in 2009, more than 10 million people including Afghan refugees and Pakistani citizens have benefited from some 3,500 RAHA projects implemented across the country costing some USD175 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