Category: Karachi

Summary – Karachi

Pakistanis: 10,467,602
Afghan refugees: 62,758
Urban Afghan refugees: 62,758
Unregistered Afghans (estimated): 48,700
Religious composition: Sunni 95%
  Shia 5%
Main areas of Origin: Kunduz, Farayab, Baghlan, Kabul, Ghazni, Kandahar, Mazhar Sharif, Bamiyan, Saripul, Farah and Takhar in Afghanistan
Ethnicities of Afghans: Pashtun: 85%
  Hazara: 5%
  Uzbek: 4%
  Tajik: 4%
  Turkmen: 2%
Housing situation: South and East Karachi (Korangi and Landi): Rented housing, typically constructed of cement

West, North and Central Karachi: Owned and rented housing in slums, typically constructed of cement
Additional Observations: Housing is conjested in the slum areas.

Government owned land is occupied by the inhabitants in UC-4 and UC-5 of district Malir.

See statistics overview for all districts …

Community Structures – Karachi

In Karachi, the refugee population mostly lives in scattered urban locations with very limited community structures. However in district Malir in union councils 4 and 5 there are larger refugee populations with organised committees. The committees are organised thematically and include protection, education, health and water & sanitation. Meetings with the refugee community are held in local schools or mosques.

Relationships with the host community are often tense. To a certain extent this is mitigated by interpersonal relationships between the refugee community and specific sectarian or ethnic groups within the host community e.g. the Ismaili sect through the Agha Khan network and the relatively close relationships between Afghan and Pakistani Pashtuns.

The majority of the refugee population are well informed about the refugees’ rights and services that are available (e.g. RSD & ALAC).

However, refugees know little about RAHA projects and more information could be disseminated about these projects. Also, the host population could benefit from a better understanding of refugees’ rights. Opportunities to achieve this abound and include inviting the host population to world refugee day and other refugee related activities.

Education – Karachi

Public schools which Afghan refugees attend include Government Primary School Boys & Girls, particularly Abidabad, Banaras, Gulistan Johar, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Machar colony, Malir, Shah Faisal, Shahdaman Town, Songal and the Citizen Foundation Schools in Ittihad town and Metrovil.

Private schools which are popular with Afghan refugees include:

  • Al-Ahmed Grammar School in Orangi town,
  • Al-Qadeer Children Academy in Baldia town,
  • Ali Public School Camp in Jadid,
  • Crescent Public School in Ittihad town,
  • Course Wahdate School,
  • Falcon Grammer School,
  • Ghazi Amanullah School,
  • Iqra public School in Kemari town,
  • Khyber School Camp in Jadid,
  • Sonrise Public School in Orangi town,
  • Syed Jamaluddin Afghani School,
  • Urooj Public School in Korangi

In Gadap town, there are also several schools specifically for Afghans, which follow the Afghan curriculum.

A number of projects within the RAHA programme have helped to improve local education facilities, including:

  • Renovation of existing buildings and construction of new classrooms, washrooms and boundry walls in government schools in union councils 4 and 5 in Gadap town – an area in which approximately 50% of Afghans in Karachi are thought to reside.
  • Books, stationary and sporting materials were provided to refugee schools following the Afghan curriculum in union councils 4 and 5 in Gadap town. These schools also benefited from teacher training (male and female teachers).

It is usually not possible for Afghan students to gain admission to government education facilities as in Karachi, these tend to only be available to the host community. These schools are also often substantial distances from the refugee communities with only limited public transport available.

As many Afghan families live in extreme poverty, they cannot afford to send their children to private schools instead and are therefore only able to send their children to one of the Afghan schools in Karachi, which are heavily oversubscribed. Therefore, enrolment rates are thought to be particularly low (60% of boys and just 40% of girls enrolled in primary schools).

The following issues have been observed in Karachi:

  • While the Sindh government has agreed that refugees should be admitted to government schools without prejudice, greater advocacy with the government will be required to achieve this in practise.
  • Community run schools have proved popular with Afghan refugees, but are oversubscribed and require support in terms of logistics, the construction of additional rooms as well as training of teachers.
  • Establishment of education committees at community level that can take ownership of the education issues within each community.

Health – Karachi

Public health facilities in Karachi include:

  • Civil Hospital,
  • Jinnah Hospital,
  • Dow Medical Hospital,
  • Sindh Hospital Korangi/Landi,
  • KPT Hospital Kemari,
  • BHU Tarogoth

Private health facilities include:

  • Zia Uddin Hospital Nazimabad,
  • Liaqat National Hospital,
  • Kiran Hopital Gulshan,
  • Patel Hospital Gulshan,
  • Memo Hospital Gulshan,
  • Sultan Hospital Korangi,
  • Indus Hospital Korangi,
  • Al-Mustafa Hospital Gulshan,
  • Asadullah Medical Centre,
  • Madina General Hospital Gulshan Ghazi,
  • Faiz-u-Rehan General Hospital Metrovil Site,
  • Ali Children General Hospital Ittihad Town,
  • Agha Medical Centre Gadap town

Refugees and unregistered Afghan migrants generally cannot access public hospitals in Karachi. Those Afghans that are admitted receive a sub-standard quality of service.

However, SHARP does refer Afghan refugees and asylum seekers for primary health services.

The Afghan community has recommended that health services should be more accessible in Karachi, possibly through outreach visits to scattered communities.

The refugee community would benefit from greater awareness of the available health services and how to access these services as well as common health problems and how they can be mitigated. Establishing community level health committees would help these communities develop stronger linkages with the government health authorities.

Legal assistance – Karachi

Legal assistance is provided by SHARP, with support from refugee elders for local issues.

The refugee communities are scattered throughout the city and would benefit from greater outreach by UNHCR.

Special training sessions should be arranged for the judiciary in particular, in areas where arrests and detentions are highest in number.

Developing protection committees that would include local police and refugee community elders would help to reduce the incidence of often unnecessary arrests in the city.

Livelihoods – Summary

The overarching issues facing refugees in Pakistan are the difficulties in accessing formal jobs due to the limited rights associated with the PoR cards and the absence of a process for requesting work permits. There is also a lack of awareness of the PoR cards in the local business community. Additionally, many refugees are stuck as daily labourers as they do not have time to learn new skills. Lastly, refugees are normally not eligible for courses run by government institutions that offer opportunities for individuals to develop specific technical skills.

Nevertheless, there is great interest amongst refugees, including female refugees, for livelihoods trainings on topics as diverse as marketing, bricklaying, embroidery and finishing techniques in dress making.

While some of the specific trainings noted in each district help improve the livelihoods of Afghan refugees, three more strategic steps that would positively impact on the livelihoods of Afghan refugees in Pakistan are as follows:

  1. Advocacy by UNHCR on the provision of official work permits for refugees.
  2. Refugees become eligible for enrolment in government vocational training institutes.
  3. Development of linkages between skilled Afghan youth and potential employers.

Livelihoods – Karachi

In Karachi, the most common livelihoods for Afghan refugees are as daily wage labourers, drivers, loaders, garbage collectors, scrap dealers, vegetable sellers, restaurant owners and shopkeepers (particularly selling carpets). Also, some refugees do manage small family businesses and factories, typically related to carpet weaving or distribution.

Most Afghan refugees in Karachi are extremely poor compared with other districts and competition for jobs within the community and also with other immigrant communities is fierce.

There is huge demand for vocational skills trainings and refugees are particularly interested in collaborative efforts between UNHCR and the government of Sindh in this regard. Specific training recommendations by refugees to be included in the RAHA programme include the following trades for men: motor mechanics, mobile repair / technicians, electricians and tailors. For women, refugees have requested tailoring, embroidery and credit schemes for small business/ shops.

Protection – Overarching

Five crosscutting social protection issues have been identified in all districts and are highlighted here.

Firstly, many refugee children are sent to work by their parents who are often forced into this situation due to extreme poverty. Even those children that do attend school during the day often still have to work in the evening / at night. The parents are generally unaware of the hazards and protection risks child labour presents. Greater advocacy both at national policy level and within communities raising awareness about these risks is required.

Secondly, the identification of child protection, domestic violence, early and forced marriages and SGBV issues are severely constrained by the cultural norms within the Afghan refugee and host communities. As a result these issues are substantially underreported. Advocacy within communities raising awareness about basic human rights is required.

Particularly in relation to SGBV incidents, due to cultural / societal taboos, many refugee SGBV survivors are themselves unwilling or unable to seek external help. Often if they do, they are stigmatised within the community. Furthermore, refugee women often do not perceive violence as an offense against them or a violation of their rights. Rather these acts are often considered by refugee women as a practice to be endured. The promotion of women’s rights within these communities is a clear priority. While most Afghans are not willing to discuss such sensitive topics openly, a way needs to be found to effectively raise awareness of SGBV and women’s health services within the Afghan community.

Thirdly, most communities neglect to include women and children in decision making processes. Greater participation of these two groups would help refugees to build stronger, more inclusive communities. Unfortunately, it has been reported that even the organisations providing these services often lack awareness on the importance of equal opportunities for women, which is reflected in these organisations employing more men than women. General protection oriented trainings are required by partner organisations.

Fourthly, a discriminatory attitude by services providers towards non-Pakistanis attempting to avail their services has been reported in a number of districts. General protection oriented trainings for these service providers would help improve the impartiality and neutrality of these services.

Lastly, discrimination because of disabilities is very prevalent and mental health issues in particular are often not diagnosed. Again, advocacy on these issues within refugee communities is direly needed.

Protection – Karachi

In Karachi, surprisingly given the size of the city, there are no specific child friendly spaces and no known projects with activities oriented towards adolescents and youth.

Public hospitals provide health care, physical safety and psychosocial services for children and SGBV survivors. Direct referrals and referral by partner organisations exist and are utilised.

Persons in need of artificial limbs and other required prosthetics (except dental) can avail support from the Pakistan Disability Association through established referral mechanisms.

Elderly unaccompanied females can be accommodated for food and shelter homes like the Panah shelter.

Key issues are:

  • Discriminatory attitude by services providers towards non-Pakistanis attempting to avail their services.
  • At the community level, no support or referral mechanisms are available to protect the most vulnerable individuals in these communities.

The follow points require follow up:

  • Advocacy is required with all service providers, especially the Government Welfare Department, to improve awareness of the importance of supporting the most vulnerable individuals in communities on an impartial and neutral humanitarian basis (i.e. without consideration of ethnicity, religion, tribe or nationality).
  • Implementation of sustainable community support mechanisms to enhance community capacity building by UNHCR, government counterparts and partner organisations.

Security – Karachi

No community watch systems exist at present. Specific concerns from the refugee communities are related to UNHCR and partner organisations, normally via the helpline.

Greater advocacy on refugees’ rights is required with the local community, local law enforcement agencies and refugees themselves.

WASH – Karachi

In Karachi, piped water supply and adequate sewerage are often not available in refugee communities. Water tankers, which are relatively expensive, are often required to provide sufficient water.

As a result, the hygiene conditions are reportedly very poor. Refugee communities would benefit from community awareness raising sessions regarding hygienic practises as well as how to best to utilise clean water without wastage.

Many of the refugee communities in Karachi would also benefit from the provision of drinking water and sewerage infrastructure.