ISLAMABAD: UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomed a contribution of US $5.6 million from the Government of Switzerland. This contribution will be directly aimed at addressing the education and livelihoods needs of refugees and host communities in Pakistan over a four-year period.
In a unique undertaking, the Swiss Development Cooperation with the South and Swiss Humanitarian Aid joined forces in coordination with the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration to pilot the multi-year funding and combine development and humanitarian funding sources – with UNHCR Pakistan being the first recipient of such mixed funding.
The Swiss contribution concentrates on refugee and Pakistani children and youth to ensure their right to quality education, participation, and protection and to enhance their prospects for life and work. This includes improving school infrastructure, removing financial barriers to school attendance, and supporting children at risk of school drop-out, including girls and children with special needs to access quality education.
Through this partnership, which will be implemented in Baluchistan, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, as well as Islamabad, UNHCR will also seek to build capacity and create opportunities for Afghan refugees and host communities to achieve self-reliance through vocational and skills training and support to start-up businesses, that will serve men and women for life.
“The signing of the funding agreement between UNHCR and Switzerland’s Swiss Development Cooperation, comes at a time of unprecedented needs for refugees and host communities alike in Pakistan, requiring innovative, comprehensive and collaborative international action,” noted UNHCR’s Representative to Pakistan, Noriko Yoshida. “This four-year initiative provides effective, efficient, and predictable support to programs that have the power to change lives.”
Livelihoods and education programs also assist host community members as part of an international effort falling under a Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees to increase contributions towards communities who have generously shared their resources with refugees for decades.
“It’s essential that after 40 years of hosting refugees, Pakistani communities continue to see the international contribution towards local services and the people who have been generously hosting refugees all this time,” noted Mr. Georg Steiner, Ambassador of Switzerland to Pakistan, noted.