UNHCR welcomes Pakistan’s decision to allow Afghan refugees operate bank accounts

Islamabad: UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has welcomed the decision made by Prime Minister Imran Khan to allow Afghan refugees to open bank accounts.

“I commend Prime Minister Imran Khan, the government and the people of Pakistan for taking this important step in support of Afghan refugees – a forward-looking, generous gesture of solidarity of global significance,” the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said.

UNHCR Director for Asia and the Pacific, Indrika Rawatte and UNHCR Representative in Pakistan, Ruvendrini Menikdiwela said Pakistan has generously hosted millions of Afghan refugees for decades and should be applauded for this latest decision.

“This is a bold demonstration of humanitarian leadership in a world that is not inclusive,” Rawatte said.

Menikdiwela said that opening of bank accounts will allow refugees’ extended family members – living abroad – to send remittances through formal banking channels, which will help increase the foreign exchange reserve in Pakistan.

She said that the decision to allow Afghan refugees to participate in the formal economy is a welcome step adding Afghan refugees were already contributing to the local economy.

After this decision, Menikdiwela said that Afghan refugees will formally contribute and boost the local economy by playing an active role.

Menikdiwela further said that UNHCR will continue to closely work with the Pakistan government. “We stand ready to support the government in any way we can,” she added.