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UN Chief Praises Pakistan's 'Generosity' In Hosting Afghan Refugees


United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has kicked off a four-day visit to Islamabad, praising Pakistan as a “reliable and generous partner” for hosting millions of Afghan refugees.

“Despite its own challenges, Pakistan has sheltered and protected Afghan refugees with limited support from the international community," Guterres said on February 16 in the Pakistani capital, where he was set to address an international conference on refugees fleeing conflict in neighboring Afghanistan.

He called on other countries to support Pakistan and show similar leadership in handling refugee flows across the world.

Pakistan is home to an estimated 2.4 million registered and undocumented people who have fled neighboring Afghanistan after their country was invaded by the Soviet Union in 1979 or during later conflicts.

Many live in camps, while others have built lives for themselves in Pakistan's cities.

Islamabad will host a two-day international conference, starting from February 17, to mark 40 years since hundreds of thousands of Afghans found refuge in the country.

The event, co-organized by Pakistan and the UN refugee agency UNHCR, will be inaugurated by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Ahead of his visit, Guterres tweeted that Pakistan was “one of the most consistent and reliable contributors to peacekeeping efforts around the world.”

“I am travelling to Pakistan, where I plan to express my gratitude to the people #ServingForPeace,” he wrote.

Based on reporting by dpa, AFP, and AP