17 February 2020

Opening remarks at joint press briefing with the Foreign Minister of Pakistan and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees

António Guterres

I’ll have a very brief message. First to express my deep gratitude and appreciation for the generosity and hospitality of the Pakistanis, for having received for 40 years millions of Afghan refugees.

In a world where so many borders are closed; in a world where so many refugees are rejected or stigmatized, Pakistan has not only opened its border, but the Pakistanis have opened the doors of their houses, and they have opened their hearts to support Afghan refugees. Pakistan has provided the world with a global public good supporting Afghan refugees and it’s time for the international community to assume its responsibilities, and to support Pakistan very meaningfully in this generous hospitality towards Afghan refugees and support Afghan refugees in their, obviously, difficult situation.

Second message: paying tribute to the resilience and the courage of Afghans; Afghan refugees, Afghans displaced, Afghans very dramatic conditions in their own country and to say that it’s time for Afghans to have a chance for peace. It’s time for Afghans to have a chance for development of their own country.

And the [third] message is that there is an opportunity for peace we cannot miss. We have not the right to miss this opportunity. No Afghan will forgive us if this opportunity is not seized. It is absolutely essential that all Afghan leaders and all members of the international community do everything possible to make peace become a reality.

I'm very encouraged by the strong commitment of Pakistan to peace in Afghanistan. And it's also very important that the whole international community, once peace is achieved decides to invest massively, in fact, in Afghanistan, to allow for the country to be able to develop itself, and to create the conditions of prosperity that are needed for Afghans to return; to return and face a new and prosperous life and for peace in the region to be consolidated forever.

I want to once again express my great gratitude for the wonderful hospitality I'm enjoying here in Pakistan, and for the excellent opportunities that were given to me to participate in so many events, in which Pakistan is contributing so positively, not only for the support to Afghan refugees, but for peace and for international cooperation and support of the UN in these very important moments that we are living together.