Category: Lahore

Summary – Lahore

Pakistanis: 6,318,745
Afghan refugees: 9,943
Urban Afghan refugees: 9,754
Unregistered Afghans (estimated): 1,000
Religious composition: Sunni 100%
Main areas of Origin: Kunduz, Baghlan, Kabul, Jalalabad, Archi, Ishq Mish and Mizar Sharif in Afghanistan.
Ethnicities of Afghans: Pashtun: 80%
  Tajik: 10%
  Uzbek: 5%
  Turkmen: 5%
Housing situation: Living in slum areas. Cheap rented places and self-constructed mud houses as well.
Additional Observations: See the map below which summarises the most common refugee locations.

See statistics overview for all districts …

Community Structures – Lahore

There are no community structures for refugees in urban settings although community meetings do take place in Hujra’s, business points and the SHARP (UNHCR RSD IP) office in Lahore.

The general relationship with the host community is peaceful and members of both communities often work together in businesses.

There are occasionally issues resulting from xenophobia and the trigger is usually the perception of the additional burden of Afghan refugees on the country of asylum’s economy.

Most of the refugee population are aware of the refugee specific services that are available (e.g. VRC, RSD and ALAC).

Refugees in Lahore would benefit from the establishment of more formal community structures, particularly in localities in which Afghan refugees are clustered.

Education – Lahore

In Lahore, refugee children attend the following schools:

  • Government boys middle school paki thati samanabad,
  • Government boys middle school gul bahar colony,
  • Government girls high school sanda kalan, gotv girls middle school shadara,
  • Government girls junior model school chah meera,
  • Government girls junior model school mochi gate,
  • Government boys middle school ravi road,
  • Government boys middle school islampura,
  • Government girls primary school nawa kot ,
  • Government muslim model high school out fall road

Two education projects have been completed in Lahore within the RAHA programme:

  1. Construction of 12 rooms along with 4 toilets
  2. Rehabilitation and repair of three classrooms, 1 Hall and 2 toilets in Data Gunj Bakhash Town, UC 74, 71

In Lahore, refugees felt there was clear discrimination in the admissions procedure to government schools with many Afghan families unable to enrol their children. Greater coordination and advocacy with the government is required and / or Afghan schools.

School attendance of girls is extremely low compared with boys, especially once the girls reach their teens (end of middle school). Awareness campaigns within the refugee community would help to explain the importance of all children having the opportunity to attend school.

Health – Lahore

The following health facilities are available in Lahore:

  • Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, 17-Queen’s Road,
  • Mayo Hospital,
  • Lady Willington Hospital,
  • Lady Aitcheson Hospital,
  • District head quarter hospital,
  • Fountain mental health hospital,
  • Railway hospital,
  • Fatima Memorial Hospital,
  • Shadman,
  • Khair-un-Nisa Hospital, Civic Centre, Faisal Town

Several health related projects have been completed within the RAHA programme:

  • Renovation of BHU duildings,
  • Provision of equipment and furniture in Mayo hospital,
  • Provision of equipment and Furniture in Mian Munshi (DHQ Lahore)

Private hospitals are expensive for refugees and therefore rarely utilised.

Refugees and unregistered Afghan migrants generally can access public hospitals in Lahore. Those Afghans that are admitted normally have to pay for the same services (called Bait-ul-Mas) that are free for the host community (e.g. Hepatitis and Thalassemia).

The Afghan community in Lahore has requested greater advocacy by UNHCR with the provincial government (specifically the Ministry of Social Welfare) so that Bait-ul-mas could be extended to include Afghan refugees.

The refugee community would benefit from greater awareness of common health problems and how they can be mitigated.

Legal assistance – AJK, Islamabad and Punjab

The PoR card lacks certain important legal entitlements including the ability for the bearer to open bank accounts, apply for a driving licence, or seek admission at universities. The policy on Hajj for Afghan refugees is also opaque. Greater advocacy with ministries of law, justice and human rights is required to facilitate Afghan PoR card holders to exercise their legal rights in their country of asylum.

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.

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 – Lahore

In Lahore, the most common livelihoods for Afghan refugees are as daily wage labourers, loaders, garbage collectors, scrap dealers, carpet weavers and wholesale businessmen. Some refugees do manage their own businesses and factories in Lahore.

In Lahore, it is the Tajik community who are expert carpet weavers while many other Afghans are much poorer and often involved in garbage collection or processing.

Projects thought to be of the greatest benefit by refugees in Lahore are those providing opportunities to the Afghan youth.

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 – Lahore

In Lahore, 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.

Child protection services are provided by the Child Protection & Welfare Bureau (Anguri Bagh Scheme, Shalamar Link Road, Lahore, Telephone: 092-42-9250275 or 9250276).

Child protection services in Lahore are limited for refugees and include legal assistance from SHARP and the Police and medical assistance in Public Hospitals.

Refugee children have no access to government child protection institutes due to the policy of the provincial government to restrict these services only to local children. There are similar issues with refugee children having difficulties accessing local schools.

The most commonly arising health issues arising from people with specific needs are the treatment of Hepatitis C (see the health post for more information).

Security – Lahore

In early 2015, incidents of police harassment of Afghan refugees often resulting in their arrest and detention, increased significantly. The rights associated with the PoR card were often not respected with Afghan refugees being treated the same as unregistered Afghan migrants.

No community watch system exists 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 relevant government departments and local law enforcement agencies.

WASH – Lahore

Afghan refugees in Lahore typically use local hand pumps supplying their drinking and domestic water. It is reported that access to these hand pumps is sometimes more difficult than for the host community.

The hygienic condition in rented houses is generally better than in the mud houses typical of slum areas. In these slum areas and even sometimes in rented houses, there is no effective system of toilets for Afghans.

There is a distinct lack of awareness within the refugee communities on health and hygiene, which could be alleviated through additional mass information campaigns and training sessions.