We appreciate all that Pakistan has done for Afghan refugees: Carol Thompson O’Connell

Islamabad: Acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Carol Thompson O’Connell addressing the international conference to mark “40 Years of Afghan Refugees Presence in Pakistan: A New Partnership for Solidarity” said we appreciate all that Pakistan has done for Afghan refugees and we are thankful to Pakistan for their generosity in hosting about 1.4M Afghan refugees over the past 40 years. Since 2006, Pakistan has issued Proof of Registration cards to provide Afghan refugees with the legal right to live in Pakistan.We laud the government’s decision to extend this important protection tool through June 2020. For many years, the United States has prioritized support for Afghan returnees, refugees, conflict victims, and those displaced throughout the region. Since 2001, we have provided nearly $3.4 billion in humanitarian assistance to support displaced Afghans in Afghanistan and throughout the region. With this funding we have supported the work of UNHCR and non-governmental organizations to help educate children, provide health care, and protect the most vulnerable.

She said that the international community must help Pakistan protect, care for, and create opportunities for Afghan refugees, according to press release of embassy of United States Islamabad. I urge the international community to continue its robust support for Afghan refugees and ask all host countries to keep providing a safe environment to Afghans who cannot safely return, she added.

Acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population said we also work on the other side of the border, in Afghanistan, to create conditions that will allow for the safe return of those who wish to go home. All sides agree that a political settlement is needed in Afghanistan and the United States is trying to create the path to negotiations among Afghans to reach that settlement and chart their future.

She said we note that the situation in Afghanistan remains fragile, and we call on all countries to refrain from forcing the return of Afghans. Any large-scale involuntary returns could overwhelm communities and create instability that could undermine efforts to achieve a lasting peace that would help Afghans return home voluntarily. From my perspective working on refugee situations globally, I often point to Pakistan as a leader for other countries to emulate. Particularly in education and healthcare, Pakistan has set the example.

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