• Text size Normal size text | Increase text size by 10% | Increase text size by 20% | Increase text size by 30%

UNHCR upgrades hospital unit for Pakistanis and Afghans

News Stories, 19 August 2008

© UNHCR/D.A.Khan
Visitors at the newly renovated District Headquarters Hospital in Pishin, where many Afghans seek medical care.

QUETTA, Pakistan, July 19 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency and its partner, the American Refugee Committee (ARC), have completed the upgrading of hospital facilities in south-west Pakistan's Balochistan province under a project to rehabilitate areas hosting Afghan refugees.

The two agencies inaugurated the Refugee Affected and Hosting Areas (RAHA) initiative at District Headquarters Hospital in Pishin on Monday.

UNHCR provided more than 1 million Pakistan rupees (US$13,385) for the improvement of the reproductive health-care unit at the hospital in Pishin, where about 70 percent of the caseload is believed to be Afghan. The ARC helped with the needs assessment and implementation, which included the purchase of medical equipment, hygiene kits, maintenance, renovation of the health-care unit, as well as staff training. UNHCR also donated an ambulance to the hospital.

"We are pleased to extend our assistance to the local communities, who have shown tremendous generosity to Afghan refugees," said John Solecki, the head of UNHCR's office in Quetta. "Afghan refugees have been part of the local communities for over 25 years, and the RAHA project is our ongoing programme that is aimed at compensating the local communities that have been affected due to the prolonged presence of refugees."

Pishin district's mayor, Sahebzada Mulvi Kamaludin, thanked UNHCR at the event. "The district hospital, especially the gynaecology ward, was in grave need of medical equipment as the majority of the patients were poor Afghan refugees who could not afford to go to a private clinic, and the government resources were hardly sufficient to cover the local population," he said.

Surriya Mengal, ARC's health coordinator, noted that response from the people was overwhelming after the establishment of the new labour room. Monthly deliveries have gone up from 25 to 46 births, because "earlier, people preferred to take patients either to Quetta or seek the help of traditional birth attendants but now they say this is even better than the Quetta hospital," she said.

Under the RAHA initiative, UNHCR in Balochistan has provided more than 2.5 million rupees for two more projects to be implemented in Muslim Bagh district, Killa Saifullah, and Posti refugee village. The agency is also funding a project in Loralai district to improve health-care delivery, especially for maternal and newborn cases in Afghan refugee and the surrounding villages.

Balochistan hosts around 400,000 registered Afghans, the majority of whom live in urban settlements alongside their Pakistani hosts. The RAHA initiative in Pakistan, which also includes the North-West Frontier Province, seeks to ensure that not only Afghan refugees but also their host communities can benefit from the rehabilitation of key facilities in the sectors of health, education, water and sanitation.

Starting in 2009, the initiative, which comes under the One UN joint programmes, will also seek to rehabilitate areas affected by the long presence of refugees, through projects in sustainable livelihoods, social cohesion and community development.

By Duniya Aslam Khan in Quetta, Pakistan




UNHCR country pages

Afghanistan: Rebuilding a War-Torn Country

The cycle of life has started again in Afghanistan as returnees put their shoulders to the wheel to rebuild their war-torn country.

Return is only the first step on Afghanistan's long road to recovery. UNHCR is helping returnees settle back home with repatriation packages, shelter kits, mine-awareness training and vaccination against diseases. Slowly but surely, Afghans across the land are reuniting with loved ones, reconstructing homes, going back to school and resuming work. A new phase in their lives has begun.

Watch the process of return, reintegration, rehabilitation and reconstruction unfold in Afghanistan through this gallery.

Afghanistan: Rebuilding a War-Torn Country

Rebuilding Lives in Afghanistan

With elections scheduled in October, 2004 is a crucial year for the future of Afghanistan, and Afghans are returning to their homeland in record numbers. In the first seven months of 2004 alone, more than half a million returned from exile. In all, more than 3.6 million Afghans have returned since UNHCR's voluntary repatriation programme started in 2002.

The UN refugee agency and its partner organisations are working hard to help the returnees rebuild their lives in Afghanistan. Returnees receive a grant to cover basic needs, as well as access to medical facilities, immunisations and landmine awareness training.

UNHCR's housing programme provides tool kits and building supplies for families to build new homes where old ones have been destroyed. The agency also supports the rehabilitation of public buildings as well as programmes to rehabilitate the water supply, vocational training and cash-for-work projects.

Rebuilding Lives in Afghanistan

The Reality of Return in Afghanistan

Beyond the smiles of homecoming lie the harsh realities of return. With more than 5 million Afghans returning home since 2002, Afghanistan's absorption capacity is reaching saturation point.

Landmine awareness training at UNHCR's encashment centres – their first stop after returning from decades in exile – is a sombre reminder of the immense challenges facing this war-torn country. Many returnees and internally displaced Afghans are struggling to rebuild their lives. Some are squatting in tents in the capital, Kabul. Basic needs like shelter, land and safe drinking water are seldom met. Jobs are scarce, and long queues of men looking for work are a common sight in marketplaces.

Despite the obstacles, their spirit is strong. Returning Afghans – young and old, women and men – seem determined to do their bit for nation building, one brick at a time.

Posted on 31 January 2008

The Reality of Return in Afghanistan

Croatia: Sunday Train ArrivalsPlay video

Croatia: Sunday Train Arrivals

On Sunday a train of 1800 refugees and migrants made their way north from the town of Tovarnik on Croatia's Serbian border. They disembarked at Cakovec just south of Slovenia. Most of the people are Syrian, Afghan and Iraqi. Their route to Western Europe has been stalled due to the closing of Hungarian borders. Now the people have changed their path that takes through Slovenia. Croatia granted passage to over 10,000 refugees this weekend. Croatian authorities asked Slovenia to take 5000 refugees and migrants per day. Slovenia agreed to take half that number. More than a thousand of desperate people are being backed up as result, with more expected to arrive later Monday.
Afghanistan Needs Your SupportPlay video

Afghanistan Needs Your Support

Croatia; Destination UnknownPlay video

Croatia; Destination Unknown