High Commissioner, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,
Let me start by welcoming the support platforms launched at the Global Refugee Forum, including the regional platforms for Afghan refugees. We are interested in the core group of states and want to know more about the role they will play and the proposed timeline. We are ready to offer our political and facilitation support.
We note that the Afghan Refugee Solution Strategy will support the voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees, which must take place in conditions of dignity and security. It is essential that any process describes the conditions conducive to returns, including economic opportunities, security and access to health and education, and assesses that these have been met. The difficult context of the Covid-19 pandemic has worsened the situation of Afghan refugees and host communities.
The UK is committed to supporting the voluntary, safe and dignified return of Afghan refugees from Iran and Pakistan to Afghanistan. We welcome the work that UNHCR is doing in these countries to support host governments and continue to provide substantial support through IOM, to offer registration and assistance to the most vulnerable part of those who need it. are returning from Iran and Pakistan. The UK is one of the only countries offering resettlement opportunities for Afghan migrants from Iran this year, hoping to resettle up to 100 refugees.
We commend the essential work that UNHCR and international non-governmental organizations, including Relief International and the Norwegian Refugee Council, are doing with the Iranian authorities to ensure the resilience of vulnerable Afghan communities. We appreciate the support that the Iranian government is giving to its Afghan community and are ready to explore possibilities of assistance.
We recognize the willingness of the Governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan to cooperate in the orderly, voluntary and principled return of Afghan refugees for whom repatriation to Afghanistan is a viable option. In line with the goals of the regional platform, UK aid to Pakistan helps provide education for host and refugee children.
The UK has invested in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in Khyber Pakhthunkwa, working with host and migrant populations to ensure all children can be immunized. We have harmonized this with our polio program in Afghanistan to ensure that all children in both countries, and those who move between them, are immunized. We have also sought to establish vaccination sites in areas that migrant Afghans are known to travel. Our polio campaigns have been halted due to COVID-19, but we hope they will resume shortly.
The UK remains firmly engaged in Afghanistan, providing £ 210million in humanitarian aid over a five-year period until 2024. In the long term, this will help establish conditions conducive to returns by supporting the resilience of returnees and displaced people at the community level. , as well as targeting areas of the country with the greatest potential for returns from Iran and Pakistan.