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ISLAMABAD: The “2021 Pakistan Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP)” was launched, on Wednesday, at a joint event hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nations in Pakistan.

Geographically, the Humanitarian Response Plan focuses on 81 prioritized districts.

The life-saving response activities called for in this Plan amount to US$ 332 million including food security and livelihood assistance, nutrition programmes, primary health services, including water and sanitation, women’s health, and education support, as well as shelter for displaced people, said a statement issued by Foreign Office after the launch.

The plan seeks to highlight the main humanitarian needs, share the efforts and steps taken by the government of Pakistan to handle these challenges in collaboration with the UN and other partners, and set out a well-coordinated and inclusive plan of action to respond to the needs of the people. The HRP is holistic, with a multi-sectoral approach covering the themes of health, education, protection, food security, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and refugees, it added.

It further stated that the HRP focuses on supporting the needs of around 4.3 million people in Pakistan including refugees, facing a series of overlapping emergencies, including extreme weather events and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pakistan is a country with both the capacity and experience in responding to humanitarian emergencies and has made major strides in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it stated, adding that at the same time, Pakistan is faced with the challenge of dealing with the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moreover, whilst Pakistan remains one of the low carbon emitters, it is faced with climate induced risks and disasters, not of its making, it stated, adding that the HRP also highlights the generosity and compassion shown by Pakistan in hosting more than 3 million Afghan nationals including 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees holding a Proof of Registration card, 0.84 million Afghan Citizenship cardholders, and an estimated 400,000 – 600,000 undocumented Afghans, providing them protection, health, education and livelihoods.

The targeted humanitarian action put forth in this Plan represents the commitment of the UN and humanitarian partners in Pakistan to support and complement national efforts, it stated, adding that it garners international support and commitment to assist Pakistan in responding to the humanitarian challenges, as part of the principle of responsibility and burden sharing.

In his address to the launch, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that the policies of the government are guided by two important principles: ‘inclusivity’ and ‘sustainability’.

“Our efforts must take into consideration the aspects of efficient and effective response to humanitarian situations, followed by inclusive recovery and sustainable rehabilitation,” he said, adding that theresponse plan is intended to strengthen Pakistan’s capacity in the prevention, preparedness and response to disasters including through the provision of relief services by building cross-institutional and stakeholder linkages.

He said that Pakistan’s story of caring for refugees is shaped by the humane values of Pakistani people – thevalues of generosity, compassion and hospitality in the face of serious economic and other challenges. “When refugees came knocking, we opened our hearts and homes for them,” he said, adding that inclusive treatment has been granted to all categories of Afghans during the pandemic as well, with full access to hospitals, doctors, paramedics and medicines.

“Based on our belief that “no one is safe until everyone is safe”, our vaccination drive is fully inclusive, catering for Pakistani and non-Pakistani citizens alike, including Afghan refugees.The scale of the protracted Afghan refugee situation requires revalidating the principle of “responsibility and burden sharing”, he added.

He emphasized the need for renewed commitments and pledges to bridge the gap between the rising number of refugees and the dwindling resources available for their protection and well-being. “We must unite to help the refugees and find durable solutions for their early and orderly repatriation,” he added.

Federal Minister for SAFRON Sahibzada Mohammad Mehboob Sultan, in his remarks, said that during the challenging COVID-19 pandemic period, the government has efficiently provided relief to Afghan refugees and other Afghans.

Replicating the government’s Ehsaasprogramme, the Ministry of SAFRON with generous support of UNHCR has provided Rs12,000 to over 75,000 Afghan refugee families.

The Chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Lt Gen Akhtar Nawaz highlighted the policies and measures taken by the government of Pakistan regarding disaster-risk reduction, mitigation and adaptation.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said: “In the face of grave implications of the pandemic, Pakistan also continues to make sure no one is left behind and includes Afghan refugees in its COVID-19 response including the government vaccination programme.”

UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator Julien Harneis said: ‘The people in Pakistan have to cope with the humanitarian consequences of extreme weather events and conflicts in Afghanistan. The causes of these humanitarian needs are in part global and regional, and so although the Pakistani state and society have significant capacity to respond to these needs, it is appropriate that the international community share this burden. In launching the HRP, we are laying out the roadmap of how the UN and humanitarian partners aim to support and complement the response of the Government of Pakistan.”

COVID-19 response activities have been mainstreamed in the HRP, which aim to complement other relevant frameworks including the UN COVID-19 Country Preparedness and Response Plan (CPRP), COVID-19 Pakistan Preparedness and Response Plan (PPRP), and the UN Socio-Economic Response Framework to COVID-19 (SERF).

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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