German Ambassador Bernhard Schlagheck and Federal Minister of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), Sahibzada Muhammad Mehboob Sultan, inaugurated the ‘Urban Cohesion Hub’ in Rawalpindi today. The Hub is a community center which will serve as a place for encounters between urban Afghan refugees and Pakistani host communities residing in Rawalpindi and Islamabad and will thereby help to foster social cohesion.
Funded by the German Federal Foreign Office and established in cooperation with the Chief Commissioner ate for Afghan Refugees under the Ministry of SAFRON, the Hub is set to support more than 30,000 refugee and host community members with integrated services in health, education, skills training, legal support, and recreational activities. While welcoming all community members, the initiative emphasizes supporting vulnerable groups, including people with disabilities, working children, elderly people, youth, and women.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the Hub, Minister Sultan said:
“For the last 40 years, Pakistanis have shown exemplary kindness, empathy and solidarity towards Afghan refugees in Pakistan. The Urban Cohesion Hub is a prime example of the German Government’s cooperation and assistance towards refugees and host communities.”
Ambassador Schlagheck added:
“The Urban Cohesion Hub is testimony to the close and multifaceted German-Pakistani bilateral relations which will witness their 70th anniversary this year. The services that will be provided through this Hub will promote peaceful coexistence in an important urban refugee affected and hosting area of Pakistan.”
The services provided at the Hub were developed through a participatory approach in consultation with the communities, the government, and UNHCR. Furthermore, the Hub’s approach is in line with regional and global policies to ease pressure on refugee-hosting countries and build self-reliance of refugees. The project is implemented by the GIZ Refugee Management Support Programme through ICMC.