UN begins messaging system for Afghan refugees

UN begins messaging system for Afghan refugees

Friday, January 27, 2017 10:13 am

United Nations headquarters

The United Nations has launched a mobile messaging service for young Afghan refugees in Pakistan, the world body said in a press statement on Friday.

This is to enable them make visible their needs and issues in the areas of health, education and protection, water sanitation, social welfare and others,

The several officials, quoted had erroneously stated that the main purpose of the programme launched jointly by UNHCR and UNICEF was to report severe tactics allegedly used by Pakistani security agencies to force the migrants to return.

One source from within the UN, that was not authorised to speak to the press, said that the tool would help Afghan refugees to register their complaints with the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in case they or their relatives are arrested, asked to pay bribes or have their premises raided.

A UNICEF spokesperson, however, said that the programme used U-report-Pak-Avaz “has no capacity or purpose to report on potential abuse cases by Pakistani authorities it has not and cannot be used in such a way.’’

“It is a youth engagement tool based on SMS technology promoting real-time monitoring and youth engagement to improve development programmes and disaster response for youth and children, including Afghan refugees in Pakistan,’’ the spokesperson said.

Around a quarter of 1.3 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan are of between the age of 18 and 24 years and the prime target of the programme, the statement added.

Pakistani authorities want to repatriate Afghans who fled to Pakistan after their country was invaded by the Soviet Union in 1979 and in following conflicts.

The country has hosted one of the largest Afghan refugee communities in the world for decades.

However, in recent months, new tensions between the Afghan and Pakistani governments arose, and the Pakistani government has stepped up efforts for Afghans to return.

Due to a mix of factors including severe harassment by the security forces hundreds of thousands of Afghans have left the country in 2016 alone, according to the UN.

For 2017, the UN is expecting another one million Afghans to return from both Pakistan and Iran.

In Afghanistan, the unexpected mass migration is leaving government and humanitarian helpers struggling.

The UN in autumn had launched a flash appeal for more than 150 million dollars for emergency measures until the end of 2016 only.


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