Pakistan Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for the year 2021 was jointly launched by the Government of Pakistan and the United Nations, with a commitment to provide basic needs and services to all residents of the country including refugees, “in all situations, without any discrimination”.
The Plan seeks to highlight the main humanitarian needs, share the efforts and steps taken by the Government of Pakistan to handle these challenges in collaboration with the UN and other partners, and set out a well-coordinated and inclusive plan of action to respond to the needs of the people. The HRP is holistic, with a multi-sectoral approach covering the themes of health, education, protection, food security, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and refugees.
Delivering the keynote, Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that the “Policies of the Government are guided by two important principles: ‘inclusivity’ and ‘sustainability’. Our efforts must take into consideration the aspects of efficient and effective response to humanitarian situations, followed by inclusive recovery and sustainable rehabilitation. This Response Plan is intended to strengthen Pakistan’s capacity in the prevention, preparedness and response to disasters including through the provision of relief services by building cross-institutional and stakeholder linkages”.
The government is pursuing a multi-pronged strategy, focusing on the health as well as socio-economic aspects. “A national coordination mechanism was established, which continues to guide our Covid-19 response, based on evidence and scientific methodology” he added.
FM Qureshi said, “We are undertaking efforts for universal vaccination, without any discrimination and we are confident of achieving our goal of vaccination for all.” We are aiming at forging partnerships in the field of agriculture, health, renewable technologies, building resilience of the host communities and businesses, and strengthening institutional capabilities to predict and respond to emergencies.
Regarding the hosting of millions of Afghan refugees, the Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that Pakistanis opened their hearts and homes for them, adding that an inclusive treatment has been granted to all categories of Afghans during the pandemic as well, with full access to hospitals, doctors, paramedics and medicines.
He said that the vaccination drive is fully inclusive, catering to Pakistani and non-Pakistani citizens alike, including Afghan refugees. He called for renewed commitments and pledges to bridge the gap between the rising number of refugees and the dwindling resources available for their protection, well-being, and repatriation.
According to a press release issued by UNRCO The HRP focuses on supporting the needs of around 4.3 million people in Pakistan including refugees, facing a series of overlapping emergencies, including extreme weather events and the COVID-19 pandemic. Geographically, the Humanitarian Response Plan focuses on 81 prioritized districts. The life-saving response activities called for in this Plan amount to US$ 332 million including food security and livelihood assistance, nutrition programmes, primary health services, including water and sanitation, women’s health, and education support, as well as shelter for displaced people.
Pakistan is a country with both the capacity and experience in responding to humanitarian emergencies and has made major strides in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At the same time, Pakistan is faced with the challenge of dealing with the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, whilst Pakistan remains one of the low carbon emitters, it is faced with climate induced risks and disasters, not of its making.
The HRP also highlights the generosity and compassion shown by Pakistan in hosting more than 3 million Afghan nationals including 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees holding a Proof of Registration card, 0.84 million Afghan Citizenship cardholders, and an estimated 400,000 – 600,000 undocumented Afghans, providing them protection, health, education and livelihoods.
The targeted humanitarian action put forth in this Plan represents the commitment of the UN and humanitarian partners in Pakistan to support and complement national efforts. It garners international support and commitment to assist Pakistan in responding to the humanitarian challenges, as part of the principle of responsibility and burden sharing.
Federal Minister for SAFRON Sahibzada Muhammad Mehboob Sultan, in his remarks, said that “during the challenging COVID-19 pandemic period, we have efficiently provided relief to Afghan Refugees and other Afghans. Replicating the Government’s Ehsaas Program, the Ministry of SAFRON with generous support of UNHCR has provided Rs.12,000 to over 75,000 Afghan refugee families.”
The Chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Lieutenant General Akhtar Nawaz highlighted the policies and measures taken by the Government of Pakistan regarding disaster-risk reduction, mitigation and adaptation.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Mr. Filippo Grandi said: “In the face of grave implications of the pandemic, Pakistan also continues to make sure no one is left behind and includes Afghan refugees in its COVID-19 response including the government vaccination programme.”
UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator Mr. Julien Harneis said: ‘The people in Pakistan have to cope with the humanitarian consequences of extreme weather events and conflicts in Afghanistan. The causes of these humanitarian needs are in part global and regional, and so although the Pakistani state and society have significant capacity to respond to these needs, it is appropriate that the international community share this burden. In launching the HRP, we are laying out the roadmap of how the UN and humanitarian partners aim to support and complement the response of the Government of Pakistan.”
The Government and the UN have worked tirelessly on joint efforts to contain COVID-19 and mitigate the pandemic’s socio-economic and health impacts and humanitarian consequences, while remaining inclusive of both Pakistan and non-Pakistani citizens such as refugees and migrants. COVID-19 response activities have been mainstreamed in this Humanitarian Response Plan, which aim to complement other relevant frameworks including the UN COVID-19 Country Preparedness and Response Plan (CPRP), COVID-19 Pakistan Preparedness and Response Plan (PPRP), and the UN Socio-Economic Response Framework to COVID-19 (SERF).
The launch event was well attended by the Diplomatic Corps, heads of UN agencies in Pakistan, representatives of international organizations, IFIs, civil society and media.