The United Nations’ Secretary-General arrived on a 3-days visit to Pakistan 

Islamabad, February 16, 2020 (PPI-OT):Mr. Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations arrived this morning with his delegation on a three days visit to Pakistan (16-18 February 2020). This is his first visit to Pakistan as the Secretary-General of the United Nations. He has visited the country few times in past as well, including as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

 

During his stay in Islamabad on 16 – 17 Feb 2020, the Secretary-General will participate in an “International Conference on 40 Years of Hosting Afghan Refugees in Pakistan: A New Partnership for Solidarity” and will deliver a keynote address. The Secretary-General will have bilateral meetings with the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan. He will also be meeting with the Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

 

The Secretary-General’s other engagements will include interactions and discussion sessions with the parliamentarians, youth, media, UN peacekeepers, refugees, children and many other dynamic people in Pakistan. He will deliver special talks on sustainable development, climate change, Youth, UN75 and UN peacekeeping.

 

The Secretary-General will also travel to Lahore and holy Gurdwara Kartarpur Saheb, where he shall be visiting some cultural and religious sites and will take part in cultural, youth and polio immunization activities. He will return to New York on 19 February 2020.

 

For more information, contact:

National Information Officer

United Nations Information Centre (UNIC)

Islamabad, Pakistan

Tel: +92-51-8355720

Cell: +92-300-8553790

Email: ishrat.rizvi@unic.org

 

Afghan teen aspires to help her country heal

Islamabad, February 16, 2020 (PPI-OT):Forty years of conflict have trapped millions of Afghans in exile, but Nadia yearns to go home – when peace returns, and once she has the medical skills to care for her people.

 

By Christopher Reardon in Quetta, Pakistan | 15 February 2020 Like many teenagers the world over, Nadia Hamidi gets a thrill from watching scary movies. “Ghosts, blood, gore – I love all of it,” she says.

 

The fact that she’s not squeamish may come in handy one day. Now at the top of her high school class here, she dreams of becoming a surgeon – “to help my family, to help my country, to make them better.”

 

Now 17, Nadia was born a refugee. Her parents fled Afghanistan 40 years ago, around the time of the Soviet invasion, and the family have lived in Pakistan ever since.

 

Nadia is among some 2.7 million Afghans registered as refugees worldwide. Their needs, and those of the communities hosting them, are the focus of a two-day conference that kicks off Monday in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad. Speakers include UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

 

For decades now, Pakistan and Iran – which together host 90 per cent of the world’s Afghan refugees – have let refugees attend public schools and access national health-care systems. The conference aims to generate more international solidarity and support for such efforts, as well as more support for host communities like Quetta.

 

Nadia plans to return to Afghanistan someday, but not just yet. First, she says, her country needs peace. And until then, she is intent on studying medicine so she can help it rebuild when the time comes.

 

“In Afghanistan we need educated people,” she says. “If we don’t have educated people, we won’t improve ourselves, and we won’t improve our country.”

 

This weekend Nadia and her father, Abdul Rashid, who is in his early 70s, had a chance to meet the High Commissioner when he visited Balochistan ahead of the conference.

 

Speaking in English, a language she learned by watching television, she told him about her high school, where she’s a star student, as well as the computer classes she takes at Safe for the Start, a programme for women and girls that is supported by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.

 

Nadia knows her path will be challenging, as a refugee and as a woman, but she doesn’t scare easily. “If I want something, I have to work hard,” she says. “I should forget the difficulties because I want to become something.”

 

In Quetta, the High Commissioner also met with several groups of Afghans and Pakistanis, including women from both nations taking courses together in rug making, embroidery, cooking and hair care. Among the refugees, a hunger for more educational opportunities, particularly at university level, was a recurring theme.

 

On the question of return, the primary obstacle is insecurity. “I’m getting an education so I can go back to Afghanistan,” said Mehbooba, a 19-year-old refugee who was born here. “If the situation becomes stable, then I will definitely go back.”

 

That Nadia and Mehbooba have come so far is a tribute to their families, and to the education they have received thus far.

 

“I want to commend Pakistan for these efforts, which are always difficult for an asylum country,” Grandi said, “and really encourage the international community to do more to share this burden and this responsibility with the Pakistani people.”

 

Nadia’s father would also like to return to Afghanistan, a country he misses dearly.

 

“The whole place is beautiful,” he says, grateful that he’s had a chance to visit his brother in Kunduz a few times in recent years. But continued violence and economic hardships have kept him from staying long. “I cannot afford to go back and settle in that region. When you don’t have enough food to eat, you’re thankful for just one meal.”

 

In Quetta, at least, he has been able to eke out a living. Each morning, he sets out with a cart of qabli – an Afghan dish made with rice, chicken, raisins and cumin – to sell on the street. He returns home late in the evening, weary from a slipped disc and a sore foot.

 

“It’s up to Nadia if she wants to become a doctor,” he says. “That’s her choice. But we are happy for her to become a doctor so she can build her own life.”

 

He adds: “I’m doing my best to help her take her studies forward. It’s an achievement for both of us.”

 

For now, Nadia has a plan to keep studying and working towards her dream of becoming a doctor. But the idea of settling down in Afghanistan is never far from her thoughts.

 

“If peace comes, there is no more beautiful place than your own country,” she says.

 

For more information, contact:

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Quaid-e-Azam University Road, Diplomatic Enclave 2,

Sector G-4/2, Islamabad

Tel: +92-51-2829502-6

Cell: +92-300-5017939

Fax: +92-51-2279455

E-mail:khand@unhcr.org

Website: www.unhcr.org.pk

 

UN launches world’s biggest survey of public opinion on climate change 

New York, February 13, 2020 (PPI-OT):Today, celebrities and youth activists met with UN officials, governments and civil society to launch Mission 1.5, a campaign that aims to bridge the gap between people and governments on ambitious climate action.

 

Mission 1.5 aims to give 20 million people around the world the opportunity to have their say on ways to limit climate change that they want to see adopted by government leaders. The campaign, led by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), hopes to address the disconnect between citizens and governments that has seen a groundswell of public opinion by citizens around the world, including school strikes and mass protests.

 

The campaign is built around an internet and mobile-based video game, developed by UNDP alongside experts in game development, climate science and public polling, in which players take on the role of climate policymakers and make decisions to try to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

 

After the game, players are asked to vote on key climate actions they want to see adopted. This data will be analysed and delivered to governments, who often lack access to reliable information on public opinion on climate action.

 

The previous biggest international survey of public opinion on climate change canvassed 10,000 people across 76 countries, and was conducted ahead of the 2015 Paris climate talks.

 

The Mission 1.5 game is available at www.mission1point5.org and can be played by people in every country in the world. It will launch initially in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish, with further roll-out internationally throughout the year up to the UN climate talks to be held in the United Kingdom in November.

 

Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator, said: “Together with partners from across the private and public sectors, we have the ability with this campaign to connect millions of people with their governments in an innovative two-way discussion on solutions to the climate crisis, and increase ambition ahead of the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow later this year.”

 

Singer-Songwriter Yemi Alade said: “I am so excited to hear what climate action matters to people around the world—especially my fellow Nigerians! Mission 1.5 is going to connect people globally on something that can’t be ignored anymore. The time to act is now!”

 

Cassie Flynn, UNDP Climate Change Advisor, said: ““People often feel disconnected from the leaders that must make urgent decisions on the climate crisis. Mission 1.5 is a way to help people understand climate solutions and make their voices heard. In many ways, it is the People’s Climate Vote.”

 

Jude Ower, Founder and CEO of Playmob, said: “Gaming is one of the most powerful mediums of our time to educate, raise awareness and encourage action on major global issues. To work with UNDP to unlock the power of gaming for one of our planet’s most pressing issues – climate change – has been incredibly exciting and the fact that people’s voices will be heard through gaming, to have a real world outcome of being heard by world leaders, will really show that gaming can be a powerful force for change in the world today.”

 

For more information, contact:

National Information Officer

United Nations Information Centre (UNIC)

Islamabad, Pakistan

Tel: +92-51-8355720

Cell: +92-300-8553790

Email: ishrat.rizvi@unic.org

UNHCR, Peshawar Zalmi announce partnership ahead of Pakistan Super League Season Five 

Islamabad, February 13, 2020 (PPI-OT):UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency has announced its partnership with Peshawar Zalmi to promote the refugee cause through cricket in Pakistan. Peshawar Zalmi is the leading franchise of Pakistan Super League (PSL) cricket championship, which have been taking place since 2015.

 

As part of the partnership, Peshawar Zalmi and UNHCR will work together to highlight refugee issues during one of the most popular cricketing contests (PSL Season Five), starting on 20 February 2020. The Chairman of Peshawar Zalmi, Mr. Javed Afridi, presented the official jersey of Peshawar Zalmi to UNHCR’s Director for Asia and the Pacific, Mr. Indrika Ratwatte, in Islamabad.

 

“War, conflict and persecution forces millions of people to become refugees worldwide,” said Afridi. “We are happy that Peshawar Zalmi and UNHCR will jointly partner to run an awareness campaign during the Pakistan Super League.”

 

Ratwatte emphasized Peshawar Zalmi’s commitment towards refugees. “Javed is already playing a major role as UNHCR Pakistan’s Refugee Youth Ambassador. By placing UNHCR’s logo on Peshawar Zalmi’s jersey, he has shown how determined he is to highlight and support the refugee cause. We wish good luck to Peshawar Zalmi during Season Five,” he said. Pakistan has remained a generous refugee host for more than four decades.

 

For more information, contact:

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Quaid-e-Azam University Road, Diplomatic Enclave 2,

Sector G-4/2, Islamabad

Tel: +92-51-2829502-6

Cell: +92-300-5017939

Fax: +92-51-2279455

E-mail:khand@unhcr.org

Website: www.unhcr.org.pk

Director General FAO to visit Pakistan this week 

Islamabad, February 12, 2020 (PPI-OT):The Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Qu Dongyu will be arriving in Pakistan on a three-day state visit on Friday as part of his vision to further strengthen the years’ long extraordinary collaboration of the country and FAO. During his visit, the Director General, FAO will call on the Prime Minister of Pakistan besides meeting with Federal Minister of Food Security and Research and other high-level officials, representatives from the private sector, youth representatives, academia, civil society and resource partners to apprise them of FAO’s work globally and in Pakistan, focusing on Zero hunger and Food Security in the context of the global climate change scenario. The Director-General will also travel to rural Punjab to meet with small-holder farmers who are most at risk from natural disasters.

 

Qu Dongyu, a former Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China, elected as FAO Director-General in June 2019, has stressed the crucial role that FAO, which has 194 member states, can play in addressing key global challenges and accelerate progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals for all. The priority challenges requiring urgent attention remain; the increasing rates of hunger and malnutrition, climate change-related risks to agriculture, ongoing natural resource depletion and environmental pollution and the growing spread of trans-boundary animal and plant pests and diseases.

 

For more information, contact:

National Information Officer

United Nations Information Centre (UNIC)

Islamabad, Pakistan

Tel: +92-51-8355720

Cell: +92-300-8553790

Email: ishrat.rizvi@unic.org

United Nations Secretary General’s message on The World Radio Day, 13th February 2020 

Islamabad, February 12, 2020 (PPI-OT):Radio brings people together. In an era of rapid media evolution, radio retains a special place in every community as an accessible source of vital news and information. But radio is also a source of innovation that pioneered interaction with audiences and user-generated content decades before they became mainstream.

 

Radio offers a wonderful display of diversity in its formats, in its languages, and among radio professionals themselves. This sends an important message to the world. As we strive to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and tackle the climate crisis, radio has a key role to play as a source of information and inspiration alike. On this World Radio Day, let us recognize the enduring power of radio to promote diversity and help build a more peaceful and inclusive world.

 

For more information, contact:

National Information Officer

United Nations Information Centre (UNIC)

Islamabad, Pakistan

Tel: +92-51-8355720

Cell: +92-300-8553790

Email: ishrat.rizvi@unic.org

Refugees and communities bank on a brighter future in Pakistan 

Islamabad, February 12, 2020 (PPI-OT):In a small corner of a bustling market in southern Pakistan, Mohammad Azeem runs his fingers through a barrel of bright red paprika. He smiles. His spices are selling well today. For years, as an Afghan refugee with no access to the banking system, Mohammad was forced to rely on friends to cash cheques and keep his money safe. Now business is booming after new laws allowed him to open a bank account last year.

 

“Before, I dealt in cash only,” he says, from the small stall he runs in Al-Asif Square, in Karachi, southern Pakistan. “There is a threat to you when you have that kind of cash at home. Having a bank account is really important. We deposit cash in the account and then we can take cash out at the ATM. Money is safe there. It has helped us.”

 

Mohammad is among some 2.7 million Afghan registered refugees living out of their homeland nearly 40 years after conflict broke out, 90 per cent of whom live in neighbouring Pakistan and Iran.

 

Later this month, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will attend a two-day conference in Islamabad seeking greater burden- and solidarity-sharing for the Afghan refugee situation.

 

For four decades, Pakistan has worked to include refugees in its education and national health care systems, and boost support to host communities.

 

In February 2019, it also allowed Afghan refugees like Azeem to open bank accounts, providing them with access to safer and more secure forms of managing their finances while in exile.

 

Among the beneficiaries is Afghan refugee Shifat Ullah, 23, who worked as a tailoring apprentice for six years, before opening his own carpet shop.

 

As a refugee, he was forced to rely on cash and borrow from his boss to raise capital for his business. Now, with a bank account, Shifat can make regular repayments to his creditor and save for the future.

 

“It used to be hard to find the money,” he says. “Now we are at a point where we’re able to pay back our creditors and provide for my family.”

 

The upcoming conference in Islamabad on 17-18 of February will ask what other countries can learn from Pakistan’s commitment. It will also shed a light on conditions Afghan refugees wish to see for their voluntary return.

 

For more information, contact:

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Quaid-e-Azam University Road, Diplomatic Enclave 2,

Sector G-4/2, Islamabad

Tel: +92-51-2829502-6

Cell: +92-300-5017939

Fax: +92-51-2279455

E-mail:khand@unhcr.org

Website: www.unhcr.org.pk