|Urban Afghan refugees:||33,439
|Unregistered Afghans (estimated):||1,700|
|Main areas of Origin:||Bamyaan, Kabul, Logar, Jalalabad and Kandahar in Afghanistan|
|Ethnicities of Afghans:||Pashtun:||80%|
|Housing situation:||Afghans have low cost rented housing. The majority are living in slums/irregular settlements with limited facilities.|
There are considerably more refugee women and children as compared to men. The women and children tend to be in more vulnerable situations.
Most of the refugees speak Dari, Pashto and Persian languages as their first language. Most of them are also familiar with Urdu language.
The vast majority of the refugee population are well aware of the available services (e.g. RSD and 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.
The community structures for Afghan refugees in Islamabad and Rawalpindi also remain surprisingly limited.
There have been several education projects in the RAHA programme in Islamabad and Rawalpindi including:
- Rehabilitation of schools including the construction of 7 additional classrooms, toilets, construction of boundary walls and drains
- Formation of community organizations, revitalisation of parent teacher committees and formation of O&M committees.
- Capacity building trainings for the parent teacher committees, community organizations and O&M Committees
- Construction of 5 additional rooms (with furniture) and 8 latrines at GGHS Khayaban e Sir Syed in UC 11 Sector 4B.
- Construction of 2 additional rooms, 1 multipurpose examination hall (with furniture) and 6 latrines at GBHS Sector 4B in UC 11.
- Rehabilitation of GGHS Khayaban e Sir Syed in UC 12.
ICMC refer children of Afghan refugees and asylum seekers to local primary schools.
It is usually not possible for Afghan students to gain admission to government education facilities as in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, these tend to only be available to the host community. The enrolment contraints are particularly serious for the 9th and 10th grades when students normally study for the board exams.
The alternatives to these government schools are unfortunately very limited, with just a single Afghan registered school in Islamabad, which as a result is overcrowded and has inadequate facilities.
Greater advocacy with the Federal government in Pakistan is required to try to increase the admission of Afghan children in government schools.
Even if there were spaces in one of the government schools, some in the Afghan community would still be unwilling to send their children to these schools because of the differences between the Pakistani and Afghan curriculums. The incompatibility between the two curriculums becomes a particular issue if refugee families were to repatriate voluntarily back to Afghanistan as their children might need to retake one or even two years of school in Afghanistan.
It has also been reported that some hospital staff in public hospitals discriminate against refugees by offering delayed or sub-standard service as these hospitals are normally extremely busy. In addition, those refugees living in slum areas often have greater difficulty accessing basic services as these areas are not recognised by the municipal authorities.
The refugee community would benefit from greater awareness of common health problems and how they can be mitigated.
- Holy Family Hospital,
- District Headquarters Hospital,
- IIMC-T Railway Hospital
And these private sector facilities are available:
- Hanif Hospital,
- Centre Hospital,
- Ahmad Hospital,
- Al Ehsan Hospital,
- Amanat Eye Hospital,
- Saleem Akhtar Memorial Welfare Hospital,
- Bilal Hospital,
- Cantonment Hospital,
- Combined Military Hospital (CMH),
- Hayat Wali Medical Centre,
- Hearts International,
- Hope Medical Dental & Diagnostics,
- Jinnah Memorial Hospital,
- Maryam Memorial Hospital,
- Military Hospital (MH),
- Raazi Hospital,
- Rawalpindi General Hospital
Host communities are not aware of refugees’ rights in their country of asylum, often resulting in xenophobia. This could be addressed, at least in part, through mass awareness raising campaigns.
In AJK, Islamabad and Punjab, there is a surprising lack of awareness among the law enforcement agencies and relevant government stakeholders regarding the PoR cards (Proof of Registration identity cards) and refugees’ rights more generally.
Lastly, Afghan refugees need to be able to earn a living given the often protracted nature of their displacement from Afghanistan which will require extensive advocacy with Government of Pakistan and detailed liaison with ILO.
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:
- Advocacy by UNHCR on the provision of official work permits for refugees.
- Refugees become eligible for enrolment in government vocational training institutes.
- Development of linkages between skilled Afghan youth and potential employers.
Most of the refugees living in the twin city are relatively poor. It is particularly difficult for the small number of non-Afghan refugees (e.g. Myanmarese and Somali) to find employment, most of whom live in Islamabad or Rawalpindi.
In addition to the general issues faced by refugees in Pakistan with respect to livelihoods, in the twin city additional social mobilization has been recommended in order to raise awareness within the refugee community of livelihood initiatives and opportunities.
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.
- The Community Support Program and the National Volunteer Movement, together with the Ministry of Youth Affairs, have signed a memorandum of understanding to establish district volunteer forums and to promote inclusive street sports, especially cricket.
- ICMC are running an SGBV prevention project and a livelihood skill development project both specifically for Afghan youth.
Child protection services and support for SGBV survivors in terms of health care, physical safety, legal services and psychosocial services are all provided at public hospitals. These services are available on a walk-in ‘direct’ basis or by referral from partner organisations.
Partner organisations provide support include Aurat Foundation (051-2608956), SAHIL, Bedari, SOS Children Village, SPARC, Rozen and Binet-e-Fatima shelter home. Government support includes the BBcenter, police stations and public hospitals.
ICMC provide refugees with wheel chairs, crutches, hearing aid and collars. Refugees requiring artificial limbs and other prosthetics (except dental treatment) are supported by the ICRC hospital after referral from one of the partners listed above.
Elderly unaccompanied females can be accommodated for food and shelter in Binet-e-Fatema shelter home in Islamabad managed by the Benazir Crisis Centre.
NIRM provide free support to refugees and members of the host population with learning disabilities.
In Islamabad and Rawalpindi, there are also no referral mechanisms for SGBV survivors.
No shelter homes are available for refugee children, even if they are unaccompanied.
Urban refugee populations are scattered mostly without formal community structures. Two populations living in slums on the edge of Islamabad do have community elders as well as a water, sanitation and health committee that meet in schools or medical clinics.
Some specific service providers are as follows:
- Haque Educational and Welfare Trust, 1st Floor Rafeeq Plaza, Near Car Chowk, Dhoke Chaudrian, Chaklala, Rawalpindi 46000 Pakistan. Telephone: +92-(0)300-5259660
- Change in Education, 454, Street No. 16, Chaklala Scheme-III, Rawalpindi, Pakistan-46000. Telephone +92 51 550 5866 / 559 8004 (illiteracy programs for adults)
- Ray of Hope (Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Center) 2007 H#1, St#1, Hill View Lane, Adyala Road, Rawalpindi, Pakistan-46000. Telephone: +92-51-5813297 / 0333 3887773. “Working to create a drug free society”
- REDO- Rawalpindi Eye Donors Organization, 1977, Behind Naz Cinema, Murree Road, Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Telephone: +92-51-5503233
- SOS Children’s Villages Pakistan, Opposite High Court – G.T. Road, P.O.Box 1379, Rawalpindi. Telephone: +92-051-4490510. “Health and educational facilities for the deprived”.
- RAHMA Islamic Relief, 314, Poonch House Complex, Adamjee Road, Saddar, Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Telephone: +92-051-5513117
- Thali, 60-C, Satellite Town, Rawalpindi 46300, Pakistan. Telephone: +92-(0)333-5710076 / +92-(0)342-5334817. “Provides free and subsidized food to those below the poverty line”.
- Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi , EDO (Education) Office Complex, Main Murree Road, Near Liaquat Bagh, Rawalpindi
- Batool Welfare Trust, Office # B-4, First Floor, Al-Sheikh Plaza, Chandni Chowk, Murree Road, Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Telephone: +92-51-4420197. “Educating orphans, women and children in poor areas.”
- Health Education and Resource development (HEARD) Welfare Foundation, Al-Syed Medical Center, Dhoke Chaudrian Bosatn Road, Chaklala Scheme III, Rawalpindi. Telephone: +92-51-5508129.
In the slum areas of Islamabad, the hygiene conditions are very poor and there is normally no effective system of toilets or sanitation.
However, there remains a lack of awareness within the refugee communities on general health and hygiene, which could be alleviated through additional mass information campaigns and training sessions.