The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant effect on UNHCR’s persons of concern in Pakistan. In particular, the economic impact of COVID-19 has presented urgent challenges for refugees and asylum seekers, many of whom lost their daily-wage earning jobs due to Government-enforced lockdowns and movement restrictions.
In line with a Government of Pakistan programme for vulnerable Pakistani citizens, UNHCR and Government partners, including the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON)/Chief Commissionerate for Afghan Refugees (CCAR), joined together to provide emergency cash assistance to refugees and asylum-seekers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Identified refugee households who are facing significant vulnerabilities or have lost income due to COVID-19 are eligible to receive a one-time emergency cash assistance of 12,000 Pakistani Rupees (approximately $77 USD). Cash assistance is being distributed in 55 districts and 53 refugee villages across Pakistan through an innovative partnership with the Pakistan Post Office. The project has received generous funding from Japan, the United States of America and the European Union (Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development – DEVCO).
Cash assistance empowers asylum-seekers and refugees who can now choose how to cover their basic needs during the COVID-19 situation. It also contributes directly to the economy of Pakistan by allowing refugees to purchase goods and services.
Between May and August 2020, 32,835 households comprised of approximately 197,010 refugees and asylum-seekers benefited from the emergency cash programme in Pakistan in 55 districts and 53 refugee villages.