United Arab Emirates and UNHCR sign partnership agreement for operations in Pakistan

News Stories, 6 July 2009

© UNHCR/H.Caux
Internally displaced Pakistani women and girls queue for UNHCR relief items. The relationship with the United Arab Emirates will help the UNHCR operation in Pakistan.

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, July 6 (UNHCR) The government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and UNHCR on Monday signed a partnership agreement to support vital humanitarian operations in Pakistan.

The agreement signed on the UAE's behalf by the Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nehayan Foundation will provide for the needs of internally displaced people, mainly women and children, living in precarious conditions. The partnership includes procurement of basic relief items such as tents, blankets, sleeping mats, plastic sheeting, mosquito nets and kitchen sets to displaced Pakistani families living in some 21 camps or with host families.

It will also help facilitate the voluntary return of displaced people in north-west Pakistan. UNHCR considers the current humanitarian crisis, with more than 2 million displaced Pakistanis in the North West Frontier Province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, as one of the largest, fastest and most complex operations it has faced in years.

"We would like to express our deep gratitude and respect to the leadership and people of the UAE for their generous support, which underscores their important role in international humanitarian work," said Panos Moumtzis, head off UNHCR's resource mobilization service. "We value tremendously the UNHCR-Khalifa Foundation cooperation and consider it as one of the most important partnerships we have embarked upon in the region in the last decade."

Mohamed Haji Al Khoori, executive director of the Khalifa Foundation, also expressed appreciation for the agreement and highlighted the needs of displaced families. "We value our cooperation with UNHCR and feel delighted the UAE government and the Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Naheyan Foundation are supporting the urgent humanitarian needs of the displaced families in Pakistan," he said. "We consider this to be our duty, according to our traditions and values."

Implementation of the project will start immediately, given the urgency of the needs in Pakistan. UNHCR has been operating in Pakistan for more than 30 years and is currently one of the largest humanitarian actors on the ground, having a lead role in terms of management of humanitarian operations.

The Abu Dhabi-based Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nehayan Foundation, which was established in 2007, enjoys an independent legal status and has the authority to implement charitable activities, provide assistance to the needy and provide educational assistance as well as social, health and religious services. The foundation has a mandate to operate in a global capacity.

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Pakistan Earthquake: A Race Against the Weather

With winter fast approaching and well over a million people reported homeless in quake-stricken Pakistan, UNHCR and its partners are speeding up the delivery and distribution of hundreds of tonnes of tents, blankets and other relief supplies from around the world.

In all, the NATO-UNHCR airlift, which began on 19 October, will deliver a total of 860 tonnes of supplies from our stockpiles in Iskenderun, Turkey. Separately, by 25 October, UNHCR-chartered aircraft had so far delivered 14 planeloads of supplies to Pakistan from the agency's stocks in Copenhagen, Dubai and Jordan.

On the ground, UNHCR is continuing to distribute aid supplies in the affected areas to help meet some of the massive needs of an estimated 3 million people.

Pakistan Earthquake: A Race Against the Weather

Pakistan Earthquake: The Initial Response

The UN refugee agency is providing hundreds of tonnes of urgently needed relief supplies for victims in northern Pakistan. UNHCR is sending family tents, hospital tents, plastic sheeting, mattresses, kitchen sets, blankets and other items from its global stockpiles. Within a few days of the earthquake, just as its substantial local stocks were all but exhausted, UNHCR began a series of major airlifts from its warehouses around the world, including those in Denmark, Dubai, Jordan and Turkey.

UNHCR does not normally respond to natural disasters, but it quickly joined the UN humanitarian effort because of the sheer scale of the destruction, because the quake affected thousands of Afghan refugees, and because the agency has been operational in Pakistan for more than two decades. North West Frontier Province (NWFP), one of the regions most severely affected by the quake, hosts 887,000 Afghan refugees in camps.

While refugees remain the main focus of UNHCR's concern, the agency is integrated into the coordinated UN emergency response to help quake victims.

Pakistan Earthquake: The Initial Response

Pakistan Earthquake: Major push to Bring in Aid before Winter

With the snow line dropping daily, the race to get relief supplies into remote mountain areas of Pakistani-administered Kashmir intensifies. In a major push to bring aid to the people in the Leepa Valley, heavy-lift Chinook helicopters from the British Royal Air force airlifted in 240 tonnes of UNHCR emergency supplies, including tents, plastic sheeting, stoves, and kitchen sets.

At lower elevations, UNHCR and its partners have dispatched emergency teams to camps to train members of the Pakistani military in site planning, camp management, winterization and the importance of water and sanitation – all crucial to containing disease during the long winter ahead.

By mid-November, UNHCR had provided a total of 19,356 tents, 152,325 blankets, 71,395 plastic sheets and tens of thousands of jerry cans, kitchen sets and other supplies. More of the agency's supplies are continuing to arrive in Pakistan on various airlifts, including a 103-flight joint NATO/UNHCR airlift from Turkey. Other UNHCR airlifts have brought in supplies from the agency's warehouses in Jordan, Dubai and Denmark.

Pakistan Earthquake: Major push to Bring in Aid before Winter

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