Category: Community Structures

Community Structures – Abbottabad

There are no community structures for refugees in urban settings. Nevertheless, the general relationship with the host community is friendly.

Most refugees in this area have no knowledge about their rights or about organizations working for their betterment. The refugees overall situation could be improved in this area by raising awareness within the community about what services are available and refugees’ rights.

Community Structures – Charsadda

In Charsadda, while there are no community structures for refugees in urban settings, the general relationship with the host community is good.

Most refugees in this area have no knowledge about their rights or about organizations working for their betterment.

The refugees overall situation in this area could be improved by raising awareness within the community about refugee rights.

Community Structures – Haripur

In Haripur, there are no community structures for refugees in urban settings. There is social cohesion among the refugees and the host community.

Most of the refugees have rented houses and have good relations with their landlords.

Refugees do report cases of police harassment and difficulties accessing government health facilities.

Urban refugees in Haripur currently receive very limited assistance.

Community Structures – Islamabad

In Islamabad and Rawalpindi, xenophobia exists and while no direct offenses against the refugee community are practiced, the relationship with the host community remains tense.

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.

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.

Community Structures – Kohat

Local refugee “Shura” committees are active at Union Council level in Kohat.

The relationship with the host community is normally friendly, although tensions between the two communities have erupted in the recent past.

The majority of the refugee community (75%) are aware of UNHCR protection programs. There is nevertheless a lack of trust /coordination amongst refugees.

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.

Community Structures – Mansehra

In Mansehra, there are no community structures for refugees in urban settings. The relationship with the host community is friendly, although refugees do report cases of police harassment and financial extortion.

The refugees overall situation could be improved in this area by raising awareness within the urban community about refugee rights. Historically, there have been very few refugee projects conducted in Mansehra.

Community Structures – Mardan

A local refugee “Hujra” community system is active, particularly Khan’s and Malik’s. The town hall, circuit house and other community buildings like the sports complex and parks in Mardan are all accessible to refugees.

The relationship between refugees and the host community is friendly and cooperative.


UNHCR through its implementing partners DRC and SHARP is operational in Mardan including registration and raising awareness about the voluntary repatriation procedure.

While in the past communal places in local government buildings were available to refugees, due to a lack of resources there are now no such places available.

Community Structures – Mirpur

Community meetings are held in local Hujra’s and business points.

The relationship between the refugee and host communities is friendly.

Most of the refugee population are aware of the refugee specific services that are available (e.g. RSD and ALAC). The refugee population would benefit from additional information on livelihoods opportunities and self-reliance.

Community Structures – Peshawar

Three refugee committees have been established, focussed specifically on urban refugees.

The committee members in each team were provided trainings, skills and information on UNHCR mandate, its protection and assistance for the persons of concern. Communal locations like Hujras or Schools are utilized in the Urban setting, but the tense security situation and the imposition of administrative orders seriously undermines these committees planned activities.

In addition, these committees effectiveness could be additionally improved with better coordination with the administrative and security counterparts within government. Greater engagement with government could provide the necessary legal framework for the functioning of the established refugee communal structures.

The key issues in Peshawar are land ownership and rental agreements and the relatively high cost of living in urban areas coupled with limited external assistance from government or the international humanitarian community.

After the tragic 16 December 2014 terrorist attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar, the government and host population attitudes to Afghan refugees has hardened. This has resulted in a significant increase in 2015 of raids of locations in which Afghan refugees reside, resulting in elevated numbers of arrests, detentions and deportations. Financial extortion by the host population is also reported to be on the increase.

In Peshawar, Advice and Legal Aid Centres (ALAC), media campaigns and frequent meetings with the authorities on all levels are underway to find an amicable solution to the heightened tensions. In addition, the Refugee Affected and Hosting Areas (RAHA) programe initiatives continue to be designed to promote peaceful coexistence.

The refugee community at large is aware of all the activities and services available. The most effective communication channels continue to be outreach visits and helpline services.

Further formalising and empowering the refugee committees would help to resolve the issues noted above as well as greater outreach by UNHCR and partner organisations.

Community Structures – Quetta

The Afghan communities in Quetta have some formal structures for community participation, supported under the UNHCR community development project implemented by WESS. In addition, informal structures exist in almost all the locations and are usually formed by specific tribes. The informal decision making community structures almost always consist of men, with very limited participation by women.

The relationship with the host community is generally good. In Quetta, urban Afghans are living intermingled with the local populations. However, there is competition when it comes to livelihood opportunities, particularly in the non-formal sectors in which most Afghans earn their living.

Refugees in Quetta are mostly well aware of the services offered by UNHCR, to a much greater degree than more remote locations in Balochistan.

Although most of the refugees in urban areas are well informed about UNHCR programmes, there are still segments of the population who do not approach UNHCR. Therefore, there is a need to enhance the outreach activities.

There are also only limited interventions for children and youth in urban areas.

For specific protection cases, shelter homes are available but most of the survivors do not opt for availing those due to complex process and the homes not being a sustainable solution.

Community Structures – Rawalpindi

In Islamabad and Rawalpindi, xenophobia exists and while no direct offenses against the refugee community are practiced, the relationship with the host community remains tense.

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.

Community Structures – Swabi

In Swabi, at district level just one ISLAHI (Welfare) committee is active. However, at the grassroots, a number of different committees are active in village and Union Councils, working for the welfare of the people. However, no committees are actively supporting urban refugees.

Notably, at each police station, a conflict resolution council has been formed. The relationship with the local law enforcement agencies is tense and often not very cordial.

Urban refugees in Swabi have at most the bare minimum of information regarding UNHCR programmes.

SACH, a UNHCR IP, is working in urban areas and is providing legal assistance to urban refugees.