Category: Mardan

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.

Education – Mardan

In Mardan, there are the following schools:

  • 2,387 primary schools (772 for boys and 1,615 for girls)
  • 202 middle schools (98 for boys and 104 for girls)
  • 125 secondary schools (59 for boys and 66 for girls)
  • 43 higher secondary schools (27 for boys and 16 for girls)
  • 1 University

There are currently three projects in Mardan managed by non-government organisations for the rehabilitation of public schools (source EDO Education), including Human Aid, PAIMAN and a RAHA education projects.

According to the EDO Education, admission of refugee students to government schools is without prejudice in Mardan. The refugee community however, highlighted that enrolling their children in government schools was not straightforward.

The attendance of girls in Mardan at an estimated 98% is much higher than in other locations. This is due to the relatively high number of girls schools, particularly primary schools, and in addition, the district authorities provide a monthly stipend to the families of female students to incentivise their attendance.

Nevertheless, the majority of schools require rehabilitation, additional rooms and improved WASH facilities.

Additional advocacy by UNHCR with the education department to ensure that refugee children can be (and are) enrolled in government schools would be beneficial.

Health – Mardan

Mardan hosts the following public health facilities:

  • 1 Teaching Hospital,
  • 1 District hospital,
  • 1 Tertiary hospital,
  • 6 Regional Health Clinics,
  • 49 BHUs,
  • 14 Dispensaries,
  • 2 Mother and Child Health Centres,
  • 2 other health facilities

Private health facilities include 4 medical centres and 6 hospitals. In addition, a number of private clinics are also available.

Refugees and unregistered Afghan migrants generally cannot access public hospitals. Those refugees that are admitted normally have to pay for the same services that are free for the host community (e.g. Hepatitis and Thalassemia). Health officials at these centres instead refer Afghans to one of the BHUs or health facilities in the refugee villages.

The executive district office (Health) has requested support from international partners to provide support to the health sector in particular.

Legal Assistance – KP Summary

Critical gaps in the provision of legal assistance in KP are the absence of key legal entitlements associated with PoR cards, a lack of clear policy and the absence of a mechanism for the management of urban refugee population. There are also legal obstacles for Afghan refugees to present surety bonds in the courts.

Sensitisation of the local authorities, law enforcement agencies and general population is required on refugees’ rights.

It is reported by refugees that the newly established dispute resolution councils operating in each police station are not working effectively, possibly as they are only staffed by Pakistanis. In general, there is a lack of refugee friendly policing initiatives in KP.

There is need to develop more interaction and coordination between urban refugees and host communities. Raising awareness in the urban refugee communities about the legal services that are provided in their area could well help.

New provincial laws regulating rental agreements for rented accommodation does not include provision for the PoR cardholders, disadvantaging them.

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 – Mardan

In Mardan, the most common livelihoods for Afghan refugees are as daily wage labourers on farms and industrial labour. Some have private businesses or are involved in government service provision.

Compared with other districts, refugees residing in Mardan are poor and often do not have access to basic facilities. Refugees largely depend upon agriculture and industrial labour which is seasonal and casual in nature.

In 2007, BEFARe trained 250 female refugees in Mardan to develop their entrepreneurial and cash handling skills.

In addition to the general concerns from refugees, travel restrictions and police harassment at checkposts in Mardan also negatively impact on refugees’ ability to find and hold onto jobs.

Additional livelihoods and vocational skills trainings are regularly requested by refugees in this district.

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 – Mardan

In Mardan, there are no specific child friendly spaces and no known projects with activities oriented towards adolescents and youth.

Several health centres are available to provide medical support for SGBV survivors and child protection cases. These include CPWS, DHQ and rural health centres and clinics.

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.

WASH – Mardan

Piped municipal water is available in houses in urban areas. In addition, there are 28 (of 33) working tubewells that are accessible to the general public. The water supply is ensured even during dry periods as 7 overhead tanks, with capacities between 50,000 and 100,000 gallons, help to maintain adequate water pressure in the system.

In general, the water is considered perfectly drinkable. However, in some localities rusted pipes significantly reduce the quality of the water provided. The town management authority is aware of the issue and is attempting to improve the pipe infrastructure.