PESHAWAR: With the province struggling with vaccine-preventable diseases such as polio — of which as many as 59 cases have been reported so far this year — the first-ever modern vaccine storage facility was inaugurated on Thursday.
The cold-chain warehouse was part of an agreement signed between the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Health Department to support the provincial government in effectively administering immunisation services.
UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Operations George Okoth-Obbo said that he was pleased to learn that the UNHCR has built modern vaccine storage facilities in both K-P and Balochistan, which host the largest numbers of refugees. The facility will stand to benefit around a million children and a million mothers.
“In the past five years, the UNHCR has helped channel more than $38 million to Pakistan just to support healthcare,” he said, adding that the international community values Pakistan’s support towards Afghan refugees despite facing its own economic and social challenges.
Okoth-Obbo reiterated UNHCR’s commitment to helping mobilise additional political, financial and technical support for sustainable solutions for Afghan refugees. He informed that UNHCR and the governments of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan have decided to launch a support platform to enhance international solidarity for the Afghan refugee situation.
This platform, he said, will be formally launched in December at the first-ever Global Refugee Forum – the first major meeting on refugees of the 21st century.
Okoth-Obbo further explained that the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR) and that the support platform will seek stronger political and financial commitments to accelerate concrete results.
Pakistan is one of five co-conveners of this world meeting on refugees, which presents a unique opportunity for the international community to make a tangible and long-term difference in the lives of refugees and the communities that host them, he said.
Minister of State for States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) Shehryar Afridi, the K-P Finance Minister Taimur Jhagra, K-P Health Minister Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan, and others attended the ceremony.
Later, the UNHCR delegation, led by Afridi and Okoth-Obbo met with K-P Chief Minister Mahmood Khan at his office in Peshawar. The chief minister appreciated the steps taken by UNHCR for the uplift of deprived communities of the province.
They agreed on bilateral cooperation and establishment of vocational training centres for the development of backward areas in the province while focusing on a comprehensive plan to provide livelihood opportunities to residents of newly-merged tribal districts.