Monday May 20, 2024

Afghan refugees seek relief over Covid-19 pandemic

By Khalid Kheshgi
July 10, 2020

PESHAWAR: Afghan refugees in Pakistan have asked the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other donor agencies to announce special package for those dislocated people who have been either infected with Covid-19 or have died of the virus in Pakistan and elsewhere in the world.

“Unlike permanent citizens, the Afghan refugees who had become victims of coronavirus in Pakistan have neither special package or compensation amount despite that

hundreds of Afghan refugees have been infected with this virus,” said Arsalan Kharoti, head of an organization that claims to be working for Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

He said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had announced a compensation amount of Rs 12,000 for registered Afghan refugees family living in the refugee villages but most of the refugees complained that the deserving Afghan families had been ignored in this regard.

“Even we have no data of Afghan refugees infected with or dying of coronavirus in Pakistan”, he added.

Speaking to a group of media persons here on the Ring Road Peshawar on Thursday, he claimed that his organization ‘Committee for Resolution of the Problems of Afghan Refugees’ had distributed relief goods, masks, sanitizers, and other items used against coronavirus in most of the Afghan refugee camps in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where their volunteers had also run awareness campaign about the current pandemic.

The Afghan refugees’ representatives from other camps were present on the occasion.

Arsalan Kharoti said the coronavirus pandemic had also adversely affected Afghan refugees, particularly those who had businesses, restaurants, transport or were daily wagers in Pakistan as result of prolonged lockdown and restrictions.

He said the government of Pakistan should extend Afghan refugees stay in Pakistan till permanent peace in Afghanistan, adding extension in their stay since 2015 had adversely affected lives and trade of the Afghans in the country where they had been living as refugees for the last four decades.

Similarly, he demanded that health, education, drinking water and electricity facilities should be provided to Afghan refugees villages in Pakistan.

The Afghan refugees representatives lamented that some of the landowners were evicting them from camps and refugees villages.

They also said that Torkham, Chaman and other gates on Pak-Afghan border should be opened for trade and general movement between the people of two neighbouring countries facilitated.