Monday July 15, 2024

Pakistan gets respite after several refugees left abroad

By Shakeel Anjum
December 03, 2023

Islamabad : The invasion of Afghan refugees into Pakistan has had a significant impact on the country’s economy, security, law and order, putting a strain on public resources and creating additional financial burdens.

In this challenging situation, when the State of Pakistan and the society were facing dire difficulties, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) played a crucial role in addressing this challenge by providing multifaceted support to both Pakistan and Afghan refugees.

Afghan refugees gather around National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) vans for biometric verifications as they prepare to depart for Afghanistan, at a holding centre in Landi Kotal on Nov 1. — AFP
Afghan refugees gather around National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) vans for biometric verifications as they prepare to depart for Afghanistan, at a holding centre in Landi Kotal on Nov 1. — AFP

The presence of Afghan refugees in Pakistan dates back to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and later in 2021 when Taliban took control over Afghanistan. Over the decades, millions of Afghans have sought refuge in Pakistan, fleeing conflict, persecution, and economic hardship in their homeland. While some have returned to Afghanistan over time, a significant number remain in Pakistan, with estimates ranging from 4 to 5 million.

IOM has been actively involved in supporting Pakistan’s efforts to manage the influx of Afghan refugees. The organization’s role encompasses various aspects.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) plays a crucial role in facilitating the resettlement of Afghan refugees in developed countries like the UK, USA, Germany, Canada, and others. IOM’s involvement encompasses various aspects of the resettlement process, ensuring a smooth and dignified transition for Afghan refugees seeking refuge in these nations through United Nation Commission for Refugees.

The International Organisation for Migration assists in registering Afghan refugees in Pakistan, providing them with identity cards that facilitate access to basic services and legal status.

The IOM supports voluntary repatriation programs for Afghan refugees who wish to return to their homeland. This includes providing pre-departure counselling, transportation assistance, and post-return support in Afghanistan.

IOM’s efforts have contributed to alleviating the economic burdens associated with the presence of Afghan refugees in Pakistan. By providing livelihood support, promoting self-reliance, and enhancing community development, IOM has helped to reduce the strain on public resources and stimulate economic growth in areas affected by the refugee influx.

In addition to these direct contributions, IOM also advocates for increased international support for Pakistan in managing the refugee crisis. This includes calling for enhanced funding for refugee programs and advocating for more equitable burden-sharing among countries hosting refugees.

IOM’s multifaceted approach to addressing the refugee challenge in Pakistan has been instrumental in mitigating the economic and social impacts of the influx of Afghan refugees. The organization's work has helped to promote stability, economic development, and social cohesion in Pakistan, while also providing essential support to Afghan refugees seeking a better future.

The Organisation provides training and capacity-building support to Pakistani government officials and local organizations involved in refugee management.

The Organisation provides comprehensive pre-departure assistance to Afghan refugees preparing for resettlement. This includes pre-departure counselling, cultural orientation, medical screenings, and documentation support. IOM also helps refugees gather essential items for their new life abroad. IOM coordinates travel arrangements for Afghan refugees, ensuring their safe and secure transportation to their destination countries. This may involve organizing charter flights, partnering with airlines, or facilitating travel through commercial means.

Upon arrival in their resettlement countries, IOM collaborates with local authorities and resettlement agencies to provide reception and integration support to Afghan refugees. This includes assistance with accommodation, language training, employment opportunities, and access to essential services like healthcare and education.

The organisation for migrants actively seeks funding and mobilizes resources to support its resettlement operations. This involves securing funding from donor governments, international organizations, and private foundations to ensure the continuity of its resettlement efforts.

The International Organisation engages in advocacy and policy discussions at the national and international levels to promote refugee resettlement and ensure the protection of refugees' rights. IOM advocates for humane resettlement policies, fair access to asylum procedures, and durable solutions for refugees.

In summary, the International Organization for Migration serves as a vital intermediary between Afghan refugees and the developed nations offering resettlement opportunities. Through its multifaceted approach, IOM facilitates safe and dignified resettlement, empowering Afghan refugees to rebuild their lives in a new environment.

The International Organization for Migrations is not directly under the charter of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). However, IOM and UNHCR collaborate closely on various initiatives related to refugee resettlement and migration management. Both organizations are part of the broader UN system, and they work together to address the challenges faced by refugees and migrants worldwide.

The IOM receives voluntary contributions from its 175 member states. These contributions provide the core funding for IOM’s operations. The Organisation also receives funding from international organizations, governments, foundations, and private donors. This funding supports specific projects and initiatives undertaken by IOM.

The Organisation for Migration manages a number of trust funds that are earmarked for specific purposes, such as refugee resettlement or migration management in specific countries. IOM generates some income from its programmatic activities, such as providing services to governments and other organizations.

According to a report, in 2021, when Taliban took over Afghanistan, IOM’s total revenue was approximately $3.2 billion. The majority of this revenue came from member state contributions (43%) and donor funding (42%).

Member state contributions: $1.36 billion, Donor funding: $1.33 billion, Trust funds: $209 million

Programmatic income: $323 million IOM's financing is diverse and decentralized, which helps to ensure that the organization can maintain its independence and impartiality. IOM's financial transparency is also high, and the organization publishes regular reports on its funding sources and activities. Livelihood Support: IOM provides vocational training and livelihood opportunities to Afghan refugees in Pakistan, enabling them to become self-sufficient and contribute to the local economy.

Community Development: IOM implements community development projects in areas with high concentrations of Afghan refugees, improving infrastructure, providing access to essential services, and fostering social cohesion.

According to a report, more or less 30,000 refugees have been transported to Canada from Islamabad by the IOM. The Organisation IOM has worked closely with the Government of Canada and other partners to safely resettle Afghans refugees in the country since August 2021. During the month of November, 2023, the IOM shifted 1997 Afghan refugees, staying in Islamabad to Canada.