Pakistan to host UN conference on Afghan refugees with Iran taking part

Pakistan will host an international conference sponsored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to mark four decades of the presence of Afghan refugees in the country with Iran taking part.

According to a statement by Foreign Ministry the two-day conference — “40 years of Afghan Refugees Presence in Pakistan: A New Partnership for Solidarity” — would be held in Islamabad on February 17-18.

United Nations Secretary General António Guterres is also likely to attend the conference.

Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan will inaugurate the conference, which will bring participants from 20 countries.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, Ministers and senior officials from around 20 countries, who have been supporting the Afghan refugees across the globe and in Pakistan, will be participating.

In addition, senior level participation is expected from multilateral developments banks, civil society and private sector.

This conference is taking place at an important juncture when efforts at consolidating peace in Afghanistan are making progress.

The statement further said that besides providing an opportunity to highlight the exemplary compassion, generosity and hospitality exhibited by Pakistan, in hosting one of the largest refugee population in the world, the conference will further identify key developments and milestones in the 40 years long evolution of the Afghan refugee situation; reflect on the lessons learned; identify the challenges; and discuss solutions for voluntary, dignified and sustainable repatriation of refugees to Afghanistan.

It said that Pakistan is confident that the conference will reinforce international efforts as agreed to in the UN Global Compact on Refugees and Global Refugee Forum to bring about a renewed focus on the Afghan refugees. It will also help build a positive narrative on refugees, especially at a time when borders are being closed on them and millions are being made stateless under nationalistic and ideological preferences.

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