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UNHCR Excom2015: Denmark's statement to the launch of the 2015/16 portfolio of the project for voluntary repatriation and reintegration of Afghan refugees

Side event of the 66th session of the Executive Committee
Launch of the 2015/2016 portfolio of projects for
voluntary repatriation and reintegration of Afghan refugees
7 October 2015

Danish statement:

I thank UNHCR for arranging this event and presenting the portfolio and objectives of the SSAR [The Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees].

As I have just stated at the high level segment, we are encouraged by the National Unity Government of Afghanistan’s ambitious reform program. We urge the Government to align this program closely with the objectives of the SSAR, thus engaging a wide range of humanitarian and development actors in longer-term development and reintegration activities, including the creation of sustainable livelihood opportunities in both rural and urban settings.

International donors must, of course, also ensure that the sustainability of return and reintegration is mainstreamed in their strategies, plans and programmes. They must also pay special attention to the regional aspect and assist the neighbouring states, Iran and Pakistan, in supporting their local host communities in their continuous efforts to help the Afghan displaced population.

The SSAR developed by Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan with the support of the UNHCR has the potential to address challenges we face in a comprehensive regional approach, engaging a wide range of national and international actors. 
Denmark remains committed to Afghanistan and the SSAR. Afghanistan is currently the biggest recipient of Danish development assistance [approximately USD 80 million a year].

We work with national flagship initiatives like the National Solidarity Programme, who has shown impressive results in building Community Development Councils as effective institutions for local governance and social-economic development.
We support UNHCR’s work with the SSAR directly and with the Danish Refugee Council in creating durable solutions for Afghan refugees and returnees.  We also support the regional activities of both organizations in Iran and Pakistan. 

We are proud to support other SSAR-partners such as Norwegian Refugee Council and DACAAR [Danish Committee for Aid to Afghan Refugees], who has a longstanding and highly regarded program that provides assistance in water, sanitation and hygiene, natural resource management, small scale enterprise development and women’s empowerment in rural areas.

A common trait of these programs is that they are holistic, inclusive and community-led to ensure long-term viability.
The NGO’s we work with are key actors in our continuous efforts to reach the most vulnerable refugees groups and affected host communities. There is a strong obligation to make sure they can operate effectively, without unnecessary legal or procedural hindrances.

I will finish by saying that we recognize that the sustainable return and re-integration of Afghan refugees and IDPs is vital, not least for the affected people and communities, but also a challenge central to the stability in Afghanistan and the region. We hope the Afghan government and neighbouring host states as well as the international community will continue to prioritize efforts towards sustainable return and reintegration of Afghan refugees at all levels.

Thank you.