US Helps Afghan Refugee Women Learn Professional Trades and to Market their Hand embroidered Fashions

Islamabad: Richard Albright, Coordinator for Economic and Development Assistance at the U.S. Embassy Islamabad, inaugurated “Shop for Cause” at Malikabad Plaza, Rawalpindi. This exclusive outlet for the hand embroidered fashions and handicrafts of Afghan women refugees is a direct result of collaboration between the U.S. government and the Hashoo Foundation.

The artisans studied tailoring and marketing with Hashoo, and the practical skills they gained will allow them to earn extra income for themselves and their families while in Pakistan and when they return to Afghanistan.

The project is an example of a successful public-private partnership, bringing together U.S. development funds with the expertise of the Hashoo Foundation. The U.S. government also works with the Hashoo Foundation on other livelihood programs. For example, under a $2 million grant from USAID, Hashoo is raising the incomes of 8,000 women and men in Bahawalpur through training in livestock management and milk production.

Since 1979, Pakistan has generously hosted a shifting population of Afghan refugees. While millions have voluntarily returned home, some 1.64 million registered Afghan refugees remain in Pakistan, continuing one of the largest and most protracted refugee situations in the world. About 50% of this Afghan refugee population lives in villages across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa KP and Balochistan; the remaining refugees live in urban areas of Peshawar, Quetta, Karachi, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, and Lahore.

The United States government funds many humanitarian programs in the region. Since 2009, the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration PRM has provided over $380 million for projects that assist Afghan refugees in Pakistan, and upon their return to Afghanistan.

PRM has worked closely with the Governments of Pakistan GOP and Afghanistan to design and secure durable solutions for the Afghan refugee population, including through support of key initiatives under the multicounty, multisectoral Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees SSAR. PRM’s key partner in offering assistance to Pakistan is the UN High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR, which provides protection and an array of essential services to refugees, and oversees voluntary repatriation to Afghanistan.