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Japan pledges $16.2 million in aid for Afghanistan, Pakistan refugees

Kyodo

Japan will provide $16.2 million in assistance to back U.N. activities for the welfare of people displaced from Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal areas.

The announcement was made Tuesday at a joint ceremony attended by Japanese Charge d’Affaires ad Interim Takashi Katae and U.N. Resident Coordinator Jacqueline Badcock at the World Food Program office in Islamabad.

Katae said the government attached high importance to the stability of the region near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border since it is critical to the stability of Pakistan and neighboring countries. He pointed out that the Afghan refugees and internally displaced people left as their homes had been made unsafe by terrorism.

“Ensuring food security and the livelihood of people in FATA (federally administered tribal areas) will be the first step to prevent the area from becoming a hotbed of terrorism again,” Katae said of the grant.

The money will be made available to different U.N. agencies, such as the World Food Program, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, the U.N. Human Settlements Program (U.N.-Habitat) and the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which are already providing relief to internally displaced people and Afghan refugees.

Pakistan has nearly 1.5 million registered Afghan refugees, an equal number of unregistered refugees and up to 2 million displaced people from tribal areas living in camps mostly in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa province, bordering Afghanistan.

U.N. Development Program representative Badcock thanked the Japanese government for the humanitarian assistance and described it as critical to meeting some of the basic needs of a vulnerable population.

A World Food Program representative said part of the aid will be used to procure wheat being supplied to the registered Afghan refugees and internally displaced people.

Omar Hamid Khan, additional secretary of the Economic Affairs Division of Pakistan, said his government, U.N. agencies and the new Afghan government were working on a plan to repatriate Afghan refugees by December 2015.

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