Remarks by Permanent Representative, Ambassador Munir Akram During the High-Level Officials Meeting - Satellite Event in New York on Global Compact on Refugees Three Years On: Translating Cooperation into Concrete Responses to Forced Displacement (New York, December 16, 2021)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We thank UNHCR's Office in New York for organizing this event in follow-up to High-Level Officials Meeting (HLOM) just concluded in Geneva.

The 4 key objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) are to: one,ease the pressure on refugees hosting countries; two, enhance refugee self-reliance; three, expand access to third-country solutions; and four, support conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and dignity.

These objectives are premised on the principle of burden and responsibility sharing. The first GCR Indicator Report covering period from 2016-2021 indicates that much needs to be done to achieve these objectives, especially to "operationalize" the principle of burden-sharing.

At the end of 2020, twenty countries are hosting more than three-quarters of the world's refugees and 86% of people displaced across borders lived in developing countries. Twenty countries are hosting more than three-quarters of the world's refugees.

Although Pakistan is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, and despite our challenges and resource constraints, Pakistan continues to host over 3.5 million Afghan refugees - the second largest concentration of refugees - for the longest time - 40 years. Pakistan continues to pursue an inclusive, generous and compassionate approach towards these refugees consistent with humanitarian principles. Before and during the on-going pandemic, Pakistan provided equal and unhindered access to public health facilities, education and livelihood to refugees.

If the current humanitarian and economic crisis in Afghanistan is not addressed, Pakistan and the world may face the prospect of the inflow of millions of Afghan refugees escaping hunger and starvation. Pakistan will not be able to accommodate them. They will have to be hosted by other members of the international community. To avoid a humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan, and to prevent another massive outflow of refugees, the international community must provide urgent humanitarian and economic assistance to Afghanistan's deprived and desperate population.

In order to address the protracted refugee situations around the world and translate objectives of GCR into tangible outcomes, I would like to share the following suggestions:

The developed countries should also open pathways for migration of people from countries which are facing humanitarian emergencies and provide them equal and unhindered access to health services, education and employment opportunities.

It is also essential to incentivize the voluntary return of refugees and their reintegration in the countries of origin. The international community should introduce fully funded repatriation programs for refugee hosting countries and countries of origin; increase ODA for countries of origin to enable them to receive returnees; invest in developing their infrastructure; introduce programs for creating livelihood opportunities; and lift sanctions for providing unhindered humanitarian assistance, as in the case of Afghanistan.

To conclude, there is much that remains to be done to implement the Global Compact on Refugees. The architecture for addressing refugee situation constructed after the Second World War needs to be reviewed and re-built to address the refugee challenges of today.

I thank you.