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UN Conference on the Future of Afghan Refugees Opens in Islamabad

Monday 17 February 2020

ISLAMABAD (United Nations) — United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres attended a High-Level Conference on 40 years of Afghan refugees in Pakistan on Monday 17 February 2020. This is the UN Chief’s second day in Pakistan. His visit is expected to wrap up on Tuesday 18 February.

Forty years of conflict have trapped millions of Afghans in exile. 2.7 mln Afghans are registered as refugees worldwide, with just over half (1.4 mln) in Pakistan. Their needs, and those of the communities hosting them, are the focus of the two-day conference in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad. Speakers also include UN Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

“Afghanistan and its people cannot be abandoned”, said Guterres, adding:

Afghans now constitute the largest group of arrivals in Europe, exceeding for the first time the arrivals from Syria. Returns to Afghanistan, as we both said, have hit a historical low.

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Afghanistan and its people cannot be abandoned. Now is the time for the international community to act and to deliver.

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Afghan displacement can only be solved by peace, and peace will be strengthened by solving forced displacement.

For his part, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said: “Who wants to be a refugee? It is probably the most difficult decision for a human being to leave his home.”


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