United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Names Asma Arbab Alamgir as honorary advisor

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Names Asma Arbab Alamgir as honorary advisor

Islamabad: UNHCR Pakistan has announced the designation of Asma Arbab Alamgir (MNA) as the office’s Honorary Advisor. On Tuesday, the Honorary Advisor met the Prime Minister where he congratulated her on her appointment.

Asma Arbab Alamgir stated that during the past three decades, the government and the people of Pakistan, in close collaboration with UNHCR, have worked tirelessly to provide protection and assistance to Afghan refugees in Pakistan. The Government of Pakistan’s cabinet decision of March 24, 2010, chaired by H.E. the Prime Minister approved the Management and Repatriation Strategy for Afghan Refugees in Pakistan (2010-2012).

She stressed that the strategy outlines the government’s commitment to identifying lasting solutions to the plight of Afghan refugees in Pakistan which will bring about a dignified conclusion to one of the world’s most protracted refugee situations. She said it was her firm belief that solutions to the problems of refugees will form an integral part of the efforts for peace, stability and development under way in the region.

Asma Arbab Alamgir stressed that in her capacity as Honorary Advisor to UNHCR, she will solicit the support of all concerned government departments to further advance close cooperation towards the implementation of the Afghan strategy by promoting the dignified repatriation of Afghans to their country and seeking alternative solutions for certain categories of Afghans in Pakistan as stipulated in the government’s March decision. She noted that in collaboration with UNHCR, other UN Agencies in Pakistan and concerned government departments she will promote the implementation of several projects underway as part of the Refugee Affected and Hosting Areas (RAHA) programme.

In order to foster the support of the international community to address the plight of the Afghan refugees and returnees, Asma Arbab Alamgir said she will work closely with UNHCR Pakistan to support the convening of a stakeholders’ conference in 2011 to mobilize support and resources for the implementation of the government’s strategy. The conference will form part of the commemoration activities marking the 60th anniversary of the UN Refugee Convention.

Mr. Mengesha Kebede, UNHCR Representative, expressed his delight with the appointment of Asma Arbab Alamgir as Honorary Advisor and said he was confident she would play an important role in advocating for the implementation of the Afghan strategy. The strategy, he said, provides a unique opportunity to identify comprehensive solutions for Afghan refugees including voluntary repatriation, resettlement and alternative stay arrangements for specific categories of Afghan refugees living in Pakistan. Mr. Kebede said that Madame Asma Arbab Alamgir would be a powerful advocate for refugee protection and for Pakistan’s accession to the Refugee Convention.

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