On October 8, 2010, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) Eric P. Schwartz announced in Islamabad, Pakistan that the U.S. Government intends to contribute an additional $1 million to the Refugee Affected and Hosting Area (RAHA) Initiative through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The RAHA Initiative is a five-year (2009-2013) joint United Nations (UN) and Government of Pakistan program designed to rehabilitate areas of Pakistan that have hosted or been affected by Afghan refugee communities over the past 30 years. With a five-year, $140 million budget focused on community-implemented projects, the Initiative aims to reduce poverty and promote peaceful co-existence by improving social services, infrastructure, and sustainable livelihoods for both Afghan refugee and local Pakistani communities until the situation in Afghanistan is conducive for Afghans to return. A major goal of the Initiative is to ensure that the 1.6 million Afghan refugees (and other Afghans in need of protection) living in Pakistan avoid poverty and despair, and have meaningful opportunities for social and economic enhancement.
The announcement of the U.S. contribution is in addition to the $75 million in other 2010 assistance this year to Afghan refugees – both those remaining in Pakistan and Iran and those returning to Afghanistan. It reflects U.S. support for policies of tolerance by the Government of Pakistan toward Afghan refugees, and for cooperation between the Afghan refugee communities in Pakistan and the Pakistani communities that neighbor them. The United States is pleased to see the strong focus on RAHA activities by Pakistani and UN officials in both rural and urban areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and Balochistan. For the Initiative to firmly take root, however, other governments must step up and provide support to the Government of Pakistan and other UN agencies implementing this five-year program.
Over the past 30 years, the people and Government of Pakistan have provided gracious, ongoing hospitality to the millions of Afghans who have sought refuge there.