ISLAMABAD: The UN Refugee Agency on Wednesday inaugurated a newly-constructed Refugee Affected and Hosting Area (RAHA) Secretariat building in Islamabad.
The building was constructed jointly by UNHCR and The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), and the facility was opened in a joint ceremony by the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), UNHCR and UNOPS. Other RAHA actors, including UN sister agencies and German Government agencies also attended the event.
Speaking at the occasion, UNHCR’s Representative in Pakistan, Neill Wright, said that the opening ceremony marks the start of improved national RAHA coordination under one roof during the expansion of the RAHA initiative. “This building will help to bring the RAHA team together to better plan and implement strategies in a well-coordinated manner,” the UNHCR Representative explained.
In order to augment management and implementation capacity as discussed in the stakeholders’ conference on RAHA, the Representative noted the importance of consolidating RAHA structures both in Islamabad and in the provinces.
“RAHA is the largest component of the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR), accounting for almost 80 per cent of donor contributions for implementing that strategy in Pakistan,” he added.
The Representative lauded the efforts of the Government of Pakistan, participating UN Agencies and donors in bringing RAHA to its current level of success. He advocated for continued engagement, “If we are to maintain this progress, we must deepen, broaden and strengthen our partnership with the active cooperation of all stakeholders, under the leadership of the Government of Pakistan.”
The Chief Commissioner of Afghan Refugees, Dr Imran Zeb, present at the occasion, said that the Government of Pakistan attached utmost importance to the RAHA initiative, stating, “The impact of RAHA has been enormous. The Government appreciates the team work demonstrated by the RAHA programme.”
He announced that by 30 June, he anticipates the government having in place a new national strategy outlining the future policies regarding Afghan refugees in Pakistan.