Pakistan to co-convene first forum on global refugees

In this undated file photo, Afghan refugee children at a makeshift school in Sector I-12 settlement, Islamabad, Pakistan. (Photo courtesy: UNHCR)
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Updated 16 December 2019

Pakistan to co-convene first forum on global refugees

  • Geneva meeting will be the first major initiative on the topic
  • Nearly 1.4mn Afghan refugees reside in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan will travel to Geneva to co-convene the first Global Refugee Forum (GRF) which begins on December 17, 2019, the PM’s Office said in a statement released on Monday.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Switzerland are co-hosting the event. 
PM Khan, along with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and other leaders from Costa Rica, Ethiopia, and Germany, were chosen. For the initiative in recognition of the exemplary roles played by them for the protection and well-being of refugees.
“The Global Refugee Forum – the first major meeting on refugees of the 21st century – will be jointly hosted by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and the Government of Switzerland on 17-18 December 2019,” excerpts from the statement read.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will also be speaking at the forum which is expected to galvanize political support and solidarity and broaden the base of commitments from states, international organizations, private sectors, and civil society to deal with the issue.
“The prime minister will articulate Pakistan’s perspective, experience, and contribution to the Afghan refugees. Co-convening of the GRF is recognition of Pakistan’s generosity, humanitarian leadership, and compassion of the people of Pakistan toward their Afghan brothers and sisters for the past 40 years,” the statement read.
During his stay in Geneva, PM Khan will also hold talks with his counterparts and the UN leadership, in addition to attending a luncheon hosted by the UN Secretary-General. 
Around 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees reside in Pakistan.
On June 28, Pakistan decided to extend the duration of their stay until June 30, 2020.
The UN refugee agency welcomed the government’s decision, commending Pakistan for being “an exemplary host” and vowing to support the government’s policies which promote voluntary repatriation.


Nepalese climbers bag mountaineering’s last great prize: winter ascent of Pakistan’s K2

Updated 22 min 52 sec ago

Nepalese climbers bag mountaineering’s last great prize: winter ascent of Pakistan’s K2

  • One of the ten Nepalese mountaineers performed the feat without using an oxygen cylinder
  • K2 earned the nickname of ‘savage mountain’ since a large number of climbers lost their lives while trying to scale it

ISLAMABAD: A group of Nepalese climbers made history on Saturday by summiting the world’s second tallest mountain, K2, in winter, according to its team leader who made the announcement on Facebook only minutes after making the accomplishment. 

“The Karakorum’s ‘Savage Mountain’ has been summited in the most dangerous season: WINTER,” Chhang Dawa Sherpa exclaimed in his social media post.

His announcement was also confirmed by an official of the Alpine Club of Pakistan which deals with mountaineering expeditions in the country.

At 8,611 meters, K2 was the only peak among the 14 “8000ers” located in the Karakorum and Himalayan mountain ranges that remained unconquered during winter. 

Along the icy glaciers of the Karakoram, mountaineers and locals speak about K2 summits with a hushed reverence, and folklore in the area is rife with mythical stories of the mountain “permitting” climbers to reach its top — considered the ultimate honor granted to a mortal by nature. 

When a climb doesn't go as planned, locals tell each other the mountain refused to be scaled. 

“The Nepalese climbers finally reached the summit of Mt. K2 … this afternoon at 17:00 local time,” Dawa wrote. “This is the first winter ascent of the 2nd highest mountain in the world and the ONLY eight-thousander (8000er) to be climbed in winter. This is a greatest achievement in the history of mountaineering, this is a good example of team work … ‘If a mountain lets you climb it, no one can stop you.’” 

One of the ten Nepalese climbers, Mingma G, also became the first mountaineer to summit the peak in winter without an oxygen cylinder.

K2 earned the nickname of “savage mountain” since a large number of climbers — 86 in all — lost their lives while trying to scale it. 

In 2008, 11 climbers from an international expedition died in what was considered as the single worst accident in the history of mountaineering. 

K2 straddles the Pakistan-China border. While it is about two-and-a-half football fields shorter than Everest (8,848 meters), it is widely considered to be the toughest and most dangerous mountain to climb. 

More than 300 climbers have scaled K2 in spring and summer. Italians Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli were the first to reach its summit in the summer of 1954.