Category: Mirpur

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.

Education – Mirpur

In Mirpur, Afghan refugee children attend just three schools, the F.G secondary and primary school, APS school and the Convent school.

While Afghan refugees are generally admitted to schools in Mirpur, there are difficulties with admission for the 9th and 10th grades when students normally study for the board exams. In part, this is because Afghan refugees do not have a “form-b” document which is normally required to register children for these exams and is only available for CNIC holders (the Pakistani identity card).

Greater advocacy with the provincial government is required to try to increase the admission of Afghan children in government schools.

Health – Mirpur

Mirpur has a public health centre and Afghans generally go to the DHQ hospital if they require treatment. Some Afghans are admitted to private hospitals but these tend to be too expensive for the majority of Afghans.

Those Afghans that are admitted to public hospitals normally have to pay for the same services (called Bait-ul-Mas) that are free for the host community (e.g. Hepatitis and Thalassemia).

Legal assistance – AJK, Islamabad and Punjab

The PoR card lacks certain important legal entitlements including the ability for the bearer to open bank accounts, apply for a driving licence, or seek admission at universities. The policy on Hajj for Afghan refugees is also opaque. Greater advocacy with ministries of law, justice and human rights is required to facilitate Afghan PoR card holders to exercise their legal rights in their country of asylum.

Host communities are not aware of refugees’ rights in their country of asylum, often resulting in xenophobia. This could be addressed, at least in part, through mass awareness raising campaigns.

In AJK, Islamabad and Punjab, there is a surprising lack of awareness among the law enforcement agencies and relevant government stakeholders regarding the PoR cards (Proof of Registration identity cards) and refugees’ rights more generally.

Lastly, Afghan refugees need to be able to earn a living given the often protracted nature of their displacement from Afghanistan which will require extensive advocacy with Government of Pakistan and detailed liaison with ILO.

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 – Mirpur

In Mirpur, the most common livelihoods for Afghan refugees are as daily wage labourers and carpet weavers.

Afghans residing in city are normally able to find employment, particularly in the textiles business, small shops, scrap dealers or running restaurants. However, Afghans living in more remote communities are in a poorer economic situation. In all areas, it is almost impossible for Afghans to find jobs in the public sector.

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 – Mirpur

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

The available child protection, SGBV services, referral mechanisms and facilities for people with specific needs are extremely limited. Individuals requiring medical support can attend one of the public hospitals, and for more serious issues can lodge complaints and issues at the police stations. No sustainable community support mechanisms are in place.

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.

WASH – Mirpur

Afghan refugees in Mirpur typically use local hand pumps supplying their drinking and domestic water.

The hygienic condition in rented houses is generally better than in the mud houses typical of slum areas. In these slum areas and even sometimes in rented houses, there is no effective system of toilets for Afghans.