Category: Swabi

Summary – Swabi

Pakistanis: 1,654,000
Afghan refugees: 52,820
Urban Afghan refugees: 15,941
Unregistered Afghans (estimated): 6,300
Religious composition: Sunni 100%
Main areas of Origin: Kunar, Nangarhar, Kabul, Logar, Paktya, Kunduz, Baghlan and Mazar in Afghanistan
Ethnicities of Afghans: Pashtun: 100%
Housing situation: All refugees live in rented houses.
Additional Observations: Frequent / seasonal cross border movement towards Afghanistan.

See statistics overview for all districts …

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.

Education – Swabi

Swabi hosts the following schools:

  • 20 elementary schools,
  • 1,068 primary schools (617 for boys and 451 for girls),
  • 123 middle schools (76 for boys and 47 for girls),
  • 128 secondary schools (80 for boys and 48 for girls),
  • 15 higher secondary schools (7 for boys and 8 for girls),
  • 2 elementary colleges,
  • 1 commerce college,
  • 1 polytechnic institute,
  • 11 degree colleges (6 for boys and 5 for girls),
  • 2 postgraduate colleges (1 for men and 1 for women),
  • 3 universities (2 for men and 1 for women);
  • 76 mosque schools,
  • 14 community schools,
  • At least 15 private schools and institutions in Swabi city alone.

The RAHA programme has also been active in Swabi, including a project to construct 8 classrooms in GPS Tpoi.

In rural areas, transportation is an issue, as many of the schools are located substantial distances from refugees homes.

More generally, the enrolment and attendance rates of refugee girls are very low.

Health – Swabi

Public health facilities include:

  • 1 DHQ Hospital,
  • 2 THQ Hospitals,
  • 38 BHUs run by SRSP,
  • 4 RHCs,
  • 3 MCHC,
  • 10 Private Health Centres

RAHA projects in Swabi include a 2013 solid waste management project in which the town management authority was provided with bins to better manage solid waste.

Refugees and unregistered Afghan migrants generally cannot access public hospitals in Swabi. Those Afghans that are admitted normally have to pay for the same services that are free for the host community (e.g. Hepatitis and Thalassemia).

Health facilities in Swabi, particularly the private facilities, are reported to lack adequate medical equipment and qualified staff.

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 – Swabi

In Swabi, the most common livelihoods for Afghan refugees are as daily wage labourers on farms or as shopkeepers. Some refugees do manage small family businesses.

Compared with other districts, refuges in Swabi are poor and rely on seasonal farming and daily wage labour to provide their income. A few refugees do manage shops and small businesses.

Livelihoods projects in Swabi include a project run by Salik foundation in the RAHA programme for people with disabilities in union councils Topi and Dagai (80% host community and 20% refugees). Other projects specifically aim to empower women through training on environmental sustainability.

However, the demand for these trainings greatly exceeds the current capacity to deliver such trainings in Swabi.

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 – Swabi

In Swabi, there are no specific child friendly spaces. There have been a small number of projects with activities oriented towards adolescents and youth. This includes technical training for youth in Swabi, initiated in 2012 by Blue Veins within the RAHA programme.

A child protection working group is operational in Swabi.

The department of social welfare manages six vocational centres for persons with disabilities. The department also assists senior citizens by providing them 6,000 PKR per month.

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.

WASH – Swabi

Piped municipal water is available in most houses in urban areas.

The municipal departments lack the necessary staff and equipment to maintain the piped water and sewerage infrastructure.