Areas of support:UNHCR_logo_blue

  • Support to refugees and asylum seekers
  • Support to internally displaced persons

Support to refugees and asylum seekers: Pakistan hosts 1.5 million Afghan refugees and has been the world’s largest refugee hosting country for more than three decades. UNHCR, together with the Government of Pakistan (GoP), facilitates the voluntary and dignified return of refugees to Afghanistan, assisting in their initial return, and supporting their longer-term reintegration. For those Afghans who cannot return sooner, UNHCR works to ensure that their basic protection needs are met and that they enjoy access to basic services while in exile.

The Pakistan Federal Cabinet on 25 July 2013 endorsed a new policy on Afghan refugees, including extension of their registration status until the end of 2015, within the framework of the regional Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees. UNHCR assists Pakistan in its consideration of refugee legislation.

UNHCR conducts refugee status determination on behalf of the GoP. There are currently more than 5,000 individually recognised refugees (Afghans and other nationalities). UNHCR often seeks third-country resettlement as a solution for the most vulnerable refugees.

UNHCR is actively engaged in the Refugee Affected and Hosting Areas (RAHA) initiative that provides support to the hosting areas inhabited by refugees to mitigate the impact of an additional population living alongside the local community. The initiative creates and supports basic services through development interventions for Afghan refugees and Pakistani communities.

With synergies between community-based assistance and RAHA interventions, and with increased cooperation with UN sister agencies, UNHCR aims to enhance the capacities of the Government and local communities to gradually mainstream refugees into national and local public services.

Support to internally displaced persons: UNHCR supports the Government in dealing with displacement by providing assistance and services. UNHCR assistance includes: registration of newly displaced and returning populations; setting-up of camps when required; maintenance of basic services in the camps in cooperation with other humanitarian actors; supplying core relief items for newly displaced families; and assistance with return shelter and transport. UNHCR also leads three clusters in the response to the humanitarian situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas: the Camp Coordination and Camp Management Cluster, the Emergency Shelter Cluster, and the Protection Cluster.


Ruven Menikdiwela is currently serving as the UNHCR Representative in Pakistan, to which function she was appointed in September 2017. Prior to taking up her assignment in Pakistan, she was the UNHCR Representative in Thailand.

Ms. Menikdiwela’s career with UNHCR spans over 27 years and includes a range of functions both at UNHCR Headquarters as well as its country operations in Thailand (where she also served previously in 1993), Turkmenistan, and the United States.

Ms. Menikdiwela obtained her LLB and her LLM in European Community and Public International Law from the University of Paris II. She is fluent in English and French.