PEHSAWAR: Delegations from Afghanistan and Pakistan along with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) continued their discussions in Istanbul at the 21st Tripartite Commission on the future of around 1.66 million Afghan refugees presently living in Pakistan.
According to a press release, The Tripartite Agreement is due to expire at the end of this year, and all parties feel that a voluntary repatriation process with an agreed mechanism is vital for these vulnerable people.
Afghan Minister for Refugees and Repatriation Jamahir Anwary briefed the delegations on the progress already made in the four months since the endorsement of the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees in Geneva in May 2012.
Pakistan Minister for States and Frontier Regions Shaukat Ullah informed that his ministry was presently holding inter-ministerial deliberations. He added that they were reviewing options for the future national policy for Afghan refugees, which will be considered shortly by his government.
The delegations expressed optimism that their respective governments would favorably review the recommendations drawn up by this meeting.
UNHCR representative in Islamabad, Neil Wright who also chaired the Tripartite Commission meeting said that UNHCR supported an extension of the Tripartite agreement which would expire on 31 December 2012 along with the validity of the Proof of Registration (PoR) cards held by Afghan refugees in Pakistan. He added that UNHCR wanted to ensure the ongoing protection for Afghan refugees.
Referring to the well-being of Afghan refugees, he added that UNHCR and the international community had not faced such a serious challenge in the past 30 years.
The meeting between the three parties came just before the first Quadripartite Steering Committee meeting to be held in Geneva on October 3, 2012, at which progress on the implementation of the Solutions Strategy for Afghan refugees will be reviewed.