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Canada pledges $14 million for Afghan refugees in Pakistan after 2022 floods

BY The Canadian Press, Sep 27, 2023 6:18 PM - REPORT AN ERROR

The new funding is meant to help with rebuilding schools and health facilities, as well as providing sexual and maternal health services. (Photo: X/Ahmed Hussen)

International Development Minister Ahmed Hussen has unveiled $14 million to support global organizations in Pakistan to help accommodate Afghan refugees.

The funding is meant to help the World Health Organization and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees afford the added cost of last year's devastating floods in Pakistan.

Ever since the Taliban took over Kabul in August 2021, hundreds of thousands of Afghans have fled to neighbouring Pakistan, putting pressure on social services and infrastructure.

The 2022 floods in Pakistan affected 33 million people, and Hussen said it particularly hit communities hosting large numbers of Afghans.

The new funding is meant to help with rebuilding schools and health facilities, as well as providing sexual and maternal health services.

Canada has resettled more than 38,000 Afghans since then, and Hussen says 16,500 of them came from Pakistan.

Many more remain, and Hussen said the goal of the funding announcement was to make life more bearable for Afghans in Pakistan as well as the towns and villages where they live.

"What we're doing is making sure that we're there for them, particularly as the floods have made them even more vulnerable in these host communities," he said.

Hussen did not directly answer when asked about when the funds would flow and for how long.

Canada's ongoing resettlement of Afghans has been partially delayed by Pakistani bureaucracy, with the Veterans Transition Network noting last year that hundreds of Afghans had been stuck in Pakistan because the country wouldn't promptly issue exit visas to let them reach Canada.

Last fall, the NDP raised concerns about Afghan refugees awaiting resettlement to Canada being told by Pakistani officials they'd risk jail time or deportation if they didn't pay hundreds of dollars to get their visas extended.

Pakistan eventually assured Ottawa it would not deport Afghans, and Hussen thanked the country for its work hosting Afghans fleeing violence over decades.

"We do value everything that the government and people of Pakistan are doing for Afghan refugees. They're part of the global solidarity movement that is hosting refugees, and it's not an easy thing to do," he said.

"We thank them for that solidarity with refugees, and we have an ongoing, very productive and effective dialogue to work with them on the facilitation of Afghan refugees through Pakistan."

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