ISLAMABAD: Simon Henshaw, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the US Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) on October 23-25 visited Pakistan to demonstrate US commitment to the needs of Afghan refugees and Pakistani hosting communities.
While in Pakistan, Henshaw met with States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) ministry and UN officials and PRM implementing partners. He also visited a range of U.S.-funded project sites in Haripur, Kyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).
Henshaw visited boys and girls refugee schools which are being expanded from 6th grade to 7th and 8th grades. U.S. government funding for this project fills a specific gap between UN-supported and Government of Pakistan-funded schools which respectively cover primary and high school education. “The full participation of women and girls in society is essential, and the U.S. government’s support to the girls’ refugee school in Haripur demonstrates our shared commitment to education for all children,” Henshaw said.
Henshaw also reviewed projects supported by the joint Government of Pakistan and UN Refugee-Affected and Hosting Areas (RAHA) initiative, including a Basic Health Unit and primary school that serve both Afghan refugees and local Pakistanis. He also met with youth receiving livelihood (vocational) training in carpentry, welding, and plumbing through a U.S. government grant that helps Afghan refugee and Pakistani youth gain skills and employment needed for self-reliance. Recent graduates of the training program shared their experiences in using their new skills to find employment and provide for their families. “I was impressed with the practical application of the skills training and glad to see so many of the training graduates receiving good jobs and even starting their own small businesses in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” Henshaw commented.
Since 1979, Pakistan has generously hosted a shifting population of Afghan refugees. While millions have voluntarily returned home since 2002, some 1.62 million registered Afghan refugees remain in Pakistan. “The United States remains committed to working closely with the Government of Pakistan and Pakistani host communities in meeting the needs of Afghan refugees,” Henshaw said.
The United States is the leading donor of humanitarian assistance in response to the plight of Afghan refugees. In fiscal year 2013, PRM provided $88 million to support Afghan refugees in the region, including their return to Afghanistan. PRM works closely with the Governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to find durable solutions for Afghan refugees. It also partners with ten non-governmental organizations to support programs that benefit both Afghan refugees and Pakistani hosting communities.