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COVID-19: Afghan refugees in dire need, says Pakistan

Food items need to be sent to Afghan refugees on war-footings as refugees out of food for 2 weeks, says minister

Islamuddin Sajid   | 05.04.2020
COVID-19: Afghan refugees in dire need, says Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan

Pakistan on Sunday warned the international community over the developing “humanitarian crisis” among Afghan refugees due to the coronavirus crisis.

Urging the developed world and world bodies to act, Pakistan’s Minister for States and Frontier Regions Shehryar Khan Afridi told reporters in the capital Islamabad that Pakistan was rolling out a special relief package for Afghan refugees “despite financial difficulties faced by the country”.

"If Pakistan can roll out a special relief package for Afghan refugees, why can't the developed nations come to the rescue of the besieged refugees.

Afghans migrated [to Pakistan] due to the Afghan war launched under the UN umbrella. Now it is the responsibility of the UN and the world to help these refugees," Khan said.

Although Pakistan is not a signatory of the UN convention on refugees and its protocols, Afridi said: “Pakistan was doing its bit to help out refugees… we are raising funds to help out the Afghan refugees stranded in camps due to lockdown situation.”

Currently, around 2.8 million registered and unregistered Afghan refugees are residing in Pakistan.

The minister said Pakistan has asked its representative of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to immediately divert funds to provide food to besieged Afghans in refugee camps.

"I will call upon the UN secretary-general and high commissioner on refugees to please send food rations to these Afghans in camps who are mostly daily wagers. Failure is no option," Afridi said.

“There is a need to turn measures into practical support… Food items need to be sent to Afghan refugees on war-footings as the refugees were out of food for two weeks,” he concluded.

Since appearing in Wuhan, China, last December, the novel coronavirus has spread to at least 183 countries and territories.

More than 1.2 million cases of coronavirus have been confirmed worldwide, according to data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

Over 66,500 people died after contracting the virus, while more than 252,600 recovered after treatment.

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