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UNHCR chief discusses Afghan refugee issue with Pakistan’s deputy PM

Grandi appreciated Pakistan’s efforts and contributions in hosting millions of Afghan refugees for decades and termed it as a remarkable example of the country’s hospitality, the statement read.

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The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi met with Pakistan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar to discuss issues relating to refugees particularly those from Afghanistan.

According to a statement issued by Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, Grandi and Dar also exchanged views on the longstanding cooperation between Pakistan and the UNHCR.

Grandi appreciated Pakistan’s efforts and contributions in hosting millions of Afghan refugees for decades and termed it as a remarkable example of the country’s hospitality, the statement read.

He briefed Dar on the agency’s ongoing projects and emphasized on the importance of sustained engagement and cooperation between Pakistan and the UNHCR.

Dar in turn “shared Pakistan’s perspective and priorities with regard to Afghan refugees. He underscored that the new humanitarian situations emerging around the world must not divert the global attention away from the needs of millions of Afghans.”

Both Dar and Grandi “underlined the need for continued demonstration of international solidarity and faithful adherence to the principle of international responsibility and burden-sharing,” the statement read.

Dar and Grandi agreed to continue working closely for the provision of necessary assistance to Afghan refugees, and the implementation of sustainable solutions for their well-resourced, safe and dignified return.

Pakistan has hosted an estimated 1.7 million Afghans for decades, most of whom fled Afghanistan during the 1979-1989 Soviet occupation.

More than half a million others fled to Pakistan after the Islamic Emirate takeover in 2021.

Thousands of these are in Pakistan waiting for resettlement in the United States and elsewhere.

 

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Pakistan contradicts UNHCR chief’s remarks on Afghan migrants’ return plan

Grandi meanwhile said in a statement early this week that the Illegal Foreigners Repatriation Plan had been suspended and sought assurances from Pakistan that it would remain on hold.

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Pakistan has contradicted a claim by UN refugees agency UNHCR that the program to repatriate illegal migrants, specifically Afghans, has been suspended, saying “this is not true”.

This week, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, said during a visit to Pakistan, that the UNHCR appreciated Islamabad’s move to suspend the repatriation of Afghan refugees.

But, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch has since said: “this is not true. It may be noted that no such understanding has been given by Pakistan to the UNHCR, including in recent meetings with the High Commissioner for Refugees.”

“IFRP (repatriation program) remains in place and is being implemented in an orderly and phased manner”, she said.

Grandi meanwhile said in a statement early this week that the Illegal Foreigners Repatriation Plan had been suspended and sought assurances from Pakistan that it would remain on hold.

Pakistan has been hosting millions of Afghan refugees since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. The latest influx started in August 2021 when the former government collapsed.

Between 600,000 and 800,000 Afghans sought refuge in Pakistan. But last November, Pakistan launched a widely criticized repatriation programme aimed at returning millions of Afghans, regardless of their legal status, to Afghanistan.

 

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UNHCR chief discusses Afghan refugee issue with Pakistan’s deputy PM

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Cherry yields have increased in Takhar province

Meanwhile, officials from Takhar’s Department of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock said that the prices have decreased due to the increase in yield.

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Farmers in Takhar say the harvest of cherries has increased in this province, but they are worried about the drop in prices and the lack of a market for sales.

Cherry farmers in Takhar said that the price earned from cultivating fruits has dropped, compared to previous years, and asked the government to help with the marketing of crops.

“Fruits are plentiful this year. It is Iranian cherries, it is domestic cherries. Unfortunately, compared to previous years, the price of cherries is very low,” said one Takhar cherry farmer.

“The price this year is very different from last year; last year the prices were very high, this year it is low,” said another farmer.

Fresh fruit sellers also said that Takhar’s fruit was exported to neighboring and central provinces in the past years, but this year they do not have customers outside their own province – which is a cause for concern among them.

Meanwhile, officials from Takhar’s Department of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock said that the prices have decreased due to the increase in yield.

“In the previous years, due to the drought, the prices of fruits and vegetables increased,” said Abdulalla Radmard, director for promotions at the Directorate of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock of Takhar.

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Pakistan to offer 4,500 scholarships to Afghan students

Pakistan’s Ministry of Education stated in the past it had awarded scholarships to 6,000 Afghan students as part of phase one and two.

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Pakistan has announced it will provide 4,500 scholarships to Afghan students, as part of the Allama Iqbal Scholarship for Afghan Students program.

Asid Durrani, Pakistan’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, said in a post on X that this is phase 3 of the program and that scholarships will be granted to Afghan students in natural sciences and social sciences across various universities in Pakistan.

However, Durani did not provide details regarding costs nor whether this would include female students.

Pakistan’s Ministry of Education stated in the past it had awarded scholarships to 6,000 Afghan students as part of phase one and two.

Following the suspension of education for girls in Afghanistan, several countries, including Germany, Japan, Iran, and Tajikistan, have also offered scholarships to Afghan girls.

 

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