Humanitarian response plan 2021 launched to handle challenges

Qureshi says plan intends to strengthen country’s capacity in prevention, preparedness, response to disasters

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Humanitarian Response Plan for the current year was launched on Wednesday to highlight the main humanitarian needs, share the steps taken by the government to handle these challenges, and set out a well-coordinated and inclusive plan of action to respond to the needs of the people.

The plan was launched at a joint event hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nations in Pakistan. It is holistic, with a multi-sectoral approach covering the themes of health, education, protection, food security, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and refugees.

Delivering the keynote address, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that the policies of the government are guided by two important principles: inclusivity and sustainability. “Our efforts must take into consideration the aspects of efficient and effective response to humanitarian situations, followed by inclusive recovery and sustainable rehabilitation,” he said.

He said that the response plan is intended to strengthen Pakistan’s capacity in the prevention, preparedness and response to disasters including through the provision of relief services by building cross-institutional and stakeholder linkages.

In his remarks, Federal Minister for SAFRON Sahibzada Mehboob Sultan, said, “During the challenging Covid-19 pandemic period, we have efficiently provided relief to Afghan refugees and other Afghans.” He said that replicating the government’s Ehsaas Programme, the ministry with generous support of UNHCR has provided Rs12,000 to over 75,000 Afghan refugee families.

National Disaster Management Authority Chairman Lieutenant General Akhtar Nawaz highlighted the policies and measures taken by the government regarding disaster-risk reduction, mitigation and adaptation.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said that in the face of grave implications of the pandemic, Pakistan also continues to make sure no one is left behind and includes Afghan refugees in its Covid-19 response including the government vaccination programme.

UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator Julien Harneis said the people in Pakistan have to cope with the humanitarian consequences of extreme weather events and conflicts in Afghanistan. The causes of these humanitarian needs are in part global and regional, and so although the Pakistani state and society have significant capacity to respond to these needs, it is appropriate that the international community share this burden, he added.

“In launching the HRP, we are laying out the roadmap of how the UN and humanitarian partners aim to support and complement the response of the government of Pakistan,” he said.

Covid-19 response activities have been mainstreamed in the Humanitarian Response Plan, which aims to complement other relevant frameworks including the UN Covid-19 Country Preparedness and Response Plan (CPRP), Covid-19 Pakistan Preparedness and Response Plan (PPRP), and the UN Socio-Economic Response Framework to Covid-19 (SERF).

The launch event was well attended by the diplomatic corps, heads of UN agencies in Pakistan, representatives of international organisations, IFIs, civil society and media.

The HRP focuses on supporting the needs of around 4.3 million people in Pakistan including refugees, facing a series of overlapping emergencies. Geographically, the plan focuses on 81 prioritised districts.

The life-saving response activities called for in this plan amount to $332 million including food security and livelihood assistance, nutrition programmes, primary health services, including water and sanitation, women’s health, and education support, as well as shelter for displaced people.

The targeted humanitarian action put forth in the plan represents the commitment of the UN and humanitarian partners in Pakistan to support and complement national efforts. It garners international support and commitment to assist Pakistan in responding to the humanitarian challenges, as part of the principle of responsibility and burden sharing.

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