ISLAMABAD: European Union (EU) Ambassador to Pakistan Androulla Kaminara on Sunday said that the EU has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with UNHCR, committing to provide €10 million to boost the latter’s assistance operations for Afghan refugees and their host communities in Pakistan.
Talking to local media, she said that the EU was trying to help the most vulnerable segments of the society by ensuring basic amenities of lives at their doorsteps, including health, clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene environment amid a surging second wave of Covid-19.
The three-year project would be implemented across the country and is expected to benefit some 370,000 Afghan refugees and Pakistani host communities.
Meanwhile, UNHCR’s Representative in Pakistan Noriko Yoshida said that UNHCR’s overall emergency response was in support of efforts by the government of Pakistan to prevent and respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“UNHCR had been advocating for the inclusion of refugees in the government’s Covid-19 Prevention and Response Plan,” she added.
It may be mentioned here that the EU, in May, had announced a €150 million package to support Pakistan’s efforts in addressing the short-term and long-term public health and socio-economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, including the new funding of €10 million for UNHCR.
This funding would be channelled towards three sectors: health, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and social protection.
“In the health sector, it would boost health initiatives by helping to provide personal protective equipment, medical supplies and other relief items to health facilities in support of refugees and host communities,” she said.
Similarly, in the WASH sector, the EU’s contribution would help enable UNHCR to upgrade or construct facilities such as toilets, handwash basins and water pumps in schools, health centres and communal facilities in or close to refugee villages – benefitting both the refugees and Pakistanis.
In terms of social protection, the one-time cash assistance will contribute to UNHCR’s emergency cash programme for the most vulnerable registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan.