Category: Security

Security – KP in general

The urban area is administered by the regular government administrative and security structures. In late 2014, the Ministry of SAFRON and CCAR decided to establish an urban refugee management and administrative structure, with the first level of this hierarchical structure established at the central level in Islamabad. This has been supported by the SHARP / UNHCR urban outreach programme, which is focussed on raising awareness of protection issues and advocacy on the rights of the refugees.

No organised communal security structures are in place in any urban area throughout KP province.

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. Additional local policing was introduced in several urban areas to improve the security situation, but there have been allegations of harassment and financial extortion by these additional police. In addition, the police themselves have been targeted by opposition militias and the Taliban. As a result, the number of casualties due to security incidents has increased in several refugee communities, particularly in localities in the south of Peshawar. Also, notably, humanitarian polio vaccination teams have been targeted.

Urban areas have often received relatively less support than refugees residing in refugee villages (former camps).

The loose communal structures and ad hoc refugee committees in various areas with significant refugee populations are not recognised by any government organisations. Despite continued capacity building efforts by UNHCR of policy makers, police, the judiciary, the high level district management and the security agencies, many government officials remain unaware of refugee rights and Pakistan’s obligations under international law.

Unilateral actions by law enforcement agencies including the closure of refugee villages (former camps), evictions, harassment, arrest, detention and deportation of the registered Afghans has become a common practice. It is fair to say that the prolonged poor security situation in KP has had a very detrimental impact on many local communities, whether Pakistani or Afghan or both.

Local law enforcement agencies also lack up-to-date tools to verify PoR cards at e.g. check posts.

With respect to unregistered Afghan migrants, there are currently no reliable estimates of how many reside in KP. Typically, they live in scattered communities with little unity between different tribal groups. They have limited information regarding social and legal services and are often wary of availing these services in fear of being deported under the foreigners act when they attend a particular service.

Security – Charsadda

In Charsadda, some cases have been reported that police collect PoR cards of registered Afghans and then refer them to Court under section 14 of the Foreigners Act.

There are no community watch systems in any refugee areas, whether urban or rural. Greater advocacy on refugees’ rights is required with local law enforcement agencies.

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.

Security – Kohat

Kohat is ethnically sensitive with a volatile security situation and a history of frequent escalations of violent tensions.

The situation has required additional police stations and occasional military patrols when required. Some refugee communities employ private night watchmen, whose remuneration is often unfortunately neglected. Refugee elders and school teachers are also active in local Jirga and Shura committees in some areas. The legal assistance provided by SHARP is of particular use in this area.

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.

Security – Mardan

There are 27 police stations in Mardan district. In addition, community watch systems exist in some areas, although the coordination with the local police stations is often non-existent and could always be improved. A number of private security companies also offer their services in this district.

Security – Nowshera

There are 8 police stations, 4 police posts and several army check posts in the cantonment area and its surroundings.

Particular security issues in Nowshera are excessive harassment by police of Afghan refugees and unregistered migrants.

SHARP and SACH (UNHCR IPs) both provide legal advice and assistance in this district. The Jirga system for resolving issues is also actively attended by both Pakistani and Afghan elders.

Security – Mirpur

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.

Security – Quetta / Balochistan summary

The government of Balochistan has no specific refugee related security policies for refugees in urban settlements. The security protocols are the same as for Pakistani citizens.

Due to the frequent security incidents in Quetta, there are 21 police stations in Quetta city, compared with just one each in Chaman, Dalbandin, Killa Saifullah, Muslim Bagh, Loralai and Pishin districts. The police stations are responsible for maintaining order within the respective cities / town limits.

Although a traditional watchmen system exists in the local communities, it is not practised strictly in either Pakistani or Afghan communities. The security situation in Quetta in particular would benefit from the creation of a coherent and organised security structure.