|Pakistanis (including 22,000 IDPs):||858,141|
|Urban Afghan refugees:||12,368
|Unregistered Afghans (estimated):||250|
|Main areas of Origin:||Nangahar, Paktiya, Khost, Kuner, Laghman, Kabul and Logar in Afghanistan.|
|Ethnicities of Afghans:||Pashtun:||99%|
|Housing situation:||95% of refugees live in rented houses while 5% live in free accomodation attached to agricultural or domestic employment.|
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.
- 653 primary schools,
- 83 middle schools,
- 72 secondary schools,
- 16 higher secondary schools,
- 1 University
Admission of refugee students to government schools is without prejudice in Kohat.
Female school attendance is significantly lower due to cultural and family barriers, and security issues. The Security issues are primarily the conveyance of the female students to and from the schools.
Of those children that are enrolled, the government estimates an 85% attendance rate.
The quality of education in Kohat could be improved by the repair / rehabilitation of most of the schools, more teachers and improvements to the curriculum.
- 21 Government basic health units (BHUs),
- 4 Regional Health Clinics (RHCs),
- 9 Dispensaries,
- 4 Hospitals,
- 2 MCH Centres
A recent project within the RAHA programme helped improve the facilities available at KDA Hospital.
It has also been reported that refugees often have difficulties accessing public hospitals.
Unregistered Afghan migrants do not access basic health facilities for fear of being deported under section 14 of the foreigners act.
All of the government health facilities need modernisation, staff require capacity building and there is a requirement for more medicine and equipment.
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.
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:
- Advocacy by UNHCR on the provision of official work permits for refugees.
- Refugees become eligible for enrolment in government vocational training institutes.
- Development of linkages between skilled Afghan youth and potential employers.
In addition to the general concerns from refugees, travel restrictions and police harassment at checkposts in Kohat also negatively impact on refugees’ ability to find and hold onto jobs.
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.
The government run child protection unit, in coordination with UNHCR, is active in Kohat although there are reported to be gaps in coordination resulting in weak and ineffective referral mechanisms ultimately leading to the most vulnerable members of these communities being neglected.
Nevertheless, services are available for people with disabilities including education and Dost Welfare Organisation is particularly active.
However much needed equipment is not available including wheelchairs for those with disabilities and hearing aids for the elderly.
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.
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.
The general hygiene condition is considered to be relatively poor.
Residents in Kohat would benefit from hygiene promotion courses, greater availability of safe drinking water and awareness and treatment on Hepatitis, Malaria and HIV.