Japan's Assistance to Afghan Refugees and Displaced Persons
According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), prior to the simultaneous terrorist attacks in the United States, approximately 3.5 million Afghan refugees had fled into the neighboring countries (approximately 2 million in Pakistan and 1.5 million in Iran, etc.). It is estimated that since the terrorist attacks more than 200,000 refugees have arrived in Pakistan.
This situation has caused a massive humanitarian crisis and could undermine the peace and stability of the surrounding nations, as well as the entire world. To address such problems, Japan has formulated and has been steadily implementing the following four measures for assisting Afghan refugees and internally displaced persons.
1. Assistance through United Nations Agencies and other International Organizations
On 27 September 2001 the United Nations called upon the international community to provide assistance totaling US$584 million for its assistance activities for Afghan people. Taking this request into account, on 4 October, the Government of Japan announced that Japan was prepared to provide up to US$120 million, which is approximately 20% of the total amount requested by the UN, in response to the concrete requests for contributions from UN agencies and other organizations that will conduct assistance to Afghan refugees..
As part of the assistance, Japan provided approximately US$6 million, which is roughly 20% of the emergency appeal (US$29 million), to cover the initial activities conducted by the UNHCR, necessary to swiftly establish a system for receiving refugees.
In addition, in response to the requests made by the four agencies assisting internally displaced persons in Afghanistan - the World Food Programme (WFP), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), on 16 November the Government of Japan decided to provide a total of US$36.85 million for activities which should be urgently covered.
These international organizations use their expert knowledge and know-how, which have been accumulated in the course of operations for years to carry out humanitarian assistance activities from a neutral position. Japanese assistance was to be used for the following purposes: the distribution of relief items, such as tents and blankets by the UNHCR, food assistance by the WFP, the distribution of food rations and medical supplies by the ICRC, health and nutrition assistance and child protection by UNICEF, and the distribution of shelter materials and outfits for the winter season by the IOM.
2. Provision and Transportation of Relief Items
As part of Japan's visible contribution for supporting Afghanistan, in response to requests from the UNHCR and in the framework of the International Peace Cooperation Law, Japan provided relief items (315 ten-man tents and 200 blankets etc). Japan transported these items to Pakistan by Self-Defense Force (SDF) aircraft and handed over to the UNHCR on 9 October. In addition, on 25 October, Japan provided additional 500 tents to the UNHCR in Pakistan. (Refer to International Peace Cooperation for the Relief of Afghan Refugees)
Furthermore, as assistance activities for affected people in the framework of the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law, in accordance with the Basic Plan decided on 16 November, Japan provided relief items (1,025 tents, 18,600 blankets, etc.) and transported these items by an SDF minesweeper tender to Pakistan and handed them over to the UNHCR on 12 December.
3. Assistance Provided through Japanese NGOs
(1) Assistance to Japan Platform
The Government of Japan supports Japanese Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in their activities, which assist refugees under the leading role of Japan Platform (JFP).
Japan Platform is a system, which was established to enhance further cooperation with the private sector, designed to facilitate the emergency humanitarian assistance activities implemented by Japanese NGOs effectively and quickly on the occasion of disasters and conflict. In order to avoid any delay in initiating the provisions of emergency humanitarian assistance and to extend the effect of the activities, JPF was established in August 2000. It became clear that Japanese NGOs had weaker organizational and fiscal foundations compared to international NGO organizations in Europe and the United States when the emergency assistance activities such as the repatriation of refugees and displaced persons undertaken in Kosovo and East Timor in 1999. In such recognition, Japan Platform pools money contributed by government and private sector companies and foundations for the initial activities of NGOs on the spot of armed conflicts and natural disasters (the initial activities are: an initial field investigation and a setup of local systems such as the establishment of an office, the recruitment of local staff, and the appropriation of vehicles and communication channels at a stage before NGOs implement genuine assistance for affected people and refugees). It ensures that NGOs can receive the required technology equipment, human resources and information resources from the private sector.
On 28 September 2001, in accordance with a decision by JPF to provide assistance to Afghan refugees in Pakistan, the Government of Japan gave its permission for the 580 million yen disbursed to the pool money fund of JPF to be used by NGOs. Furthermore, on 12 November, following another decision by JPF to conduct assistance activities for refugees in Afghanistan, the Government of Japan dispatched an official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to support the activities of NGOs on the spot. The Government of Japan will continue to support the activities of these NGOs to the greatest extent possible.
(2) Promoting cooperation with international organizations
NGOs working in the field frequently have meetings with such international organizations as the UNHCR and WFP, to exchange detailed information on the local situation to utilize such information in the future implementation of assistance activities. Of these NGOs, there are some who wish to be implementing partners of international organizations. The Government of Japan is helping these NGOs to be able to conclude operational contracts with international organizations, so that the contribution through such international organizations would be Japan's visible contribution.
4. Assistance to countries around Afghanistan
In order to reduce the burden placed on countries around Afghanistan affected by the current situation, of the 4.7 billion yen in emergency economic assistance to Pakistan, 1.7 billion yen has been earmarked for assistance to refugees in Pakistan, and it is being steadily implemented. (Of this 1.7 billion yen, 200 million yen has been dispersed as emergency grant aid through the offices of the UNHCR (see ref. 1)). In addition, refugee assistance amounting to approximately US$2 million dollars has been provided to Tajikistan.
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