|Urban Afghan refugees:||155,623
|Unregistered Afghans (estimated):||250,000|
|Main areas of Origin:||Kandhar:||27%|
|Ethnicities of Afghans:||Pashtun:||58%|
|Housing situation:||Majority live in rented houses in Ghausabad, Qadiriabad, Phastoonbagh and Hazara Town. The land around these settlements belongs to local communities and the refugees typically pay monthly rent of around 500 to 1500 PKR (5 to 15 USD) per household.|
The relationship with the host community is generally good. In Quetta, urban Afghans are living intermingled with the local populations. However, there is competition when it comes to livelihood opportunities, particularly in the non-formal sectors in which most Afghans earn their living.
Refugees in Quetta are mostly well aware of the services offered by UNHCR, to a much greater degree than more remote locations in Balochistan.
Although most of the refugees in urban areas are well informed about UNHCR programmes, there are still segments of the population who do not approach UNHCR. Therefore, there is a need to enhance the outreach activities.
There are also only limited interventions for children and youth in urban areas.
For specific protection cases, shelter homes are available but most of the survivors do not opt for availing those due to complex process and the homes not being a sustainable solution.
In total, there are 23,126 (Jan 2015) students (41% girls) enrolled in 23 secondary schools 10 middle schools and 9 primary schools.
A number of education projects have been implemented in Quetta within the RAHA programme, including:
- Repair and renovation of several public schools in 2009 by a number of organisations, including TAHREEK (4 schools), CONCERN WOLDWIDE (3 schools), TARAQEE (1 school) and SAVE THE CHILDREN (16 schools).
- SCSPEB focused on health and hygiene sessions, establishment of School Management committees and renovation work in 54 public schools.
- CAR completed in 2010 the renovation and construction of 1 school, with an additional 4 schools in 2011 and 5 schools in 2012.
- In 2013, IHH conducted an educational promotion project and WESS targeted 3 schools for creation of child friendly environment for the children.
- In 2014 IHH implemented the girls’ educational promotion project including construction of additional classrooms, a hall and provided urgently needed furniture.
- In 2014, UNHCR distributed 12,264 textbooks to Afghan children in two Afghani schools of Quetta Urban.
While the education activities in Quetta are numerous, a number of issues remain, including:
- Documentation is normally mandatory for enrolment in school, but many refugee families have not obtained birth certificates for their children, resulting in the children’s admission being denied. Refugees can obtain a birth certificate for all children freely at the PCM centre – the Proof of Registration Card Modification centre.
- As noted in the livelihoods post, many refugee families live in extreme poverty and are forced to send their children, normally boys, out to earn money doing odd jobs including garbage collection, daily labour etc. Awareness raising within the community of the risks presented by child labour is required.
- Having no disposable income, these families cannot also afford to buy the books and uniforms the children would require if they were enrolled in school. Perhaps a future RAHA project could provide books and uniforms?
- As noted in other districts, girls are often not allowed to attend school after reaching 9 years of age. This is typical of Afghan culture, particularly the Pashtoon and Uzbek ethnicities. Once the girls leave school, they have to stay at home, support their mothers, conduct household chores, do embroidery or take care of younger siblings. Awareness raising about the importance of education is required within the community as well as possible home schooling alternatives.
- Girls are also denied access to schools by their parents due to the perception of their commute to and from school being insecure.
- As noted elsewhere, Afghan students completing their studies in Pakistani schools face certification issues on their return to Afghanistan.
- School enrolment suffers as there are too few schools and those that are operational are not perceived as sound facilities within the community. The schools often lack one or more resources including male and female teachers, poor infrastructure, no furniture, no books, lack of space within schools to construct additional rooms resulting in those rooms that are available being increasingly overcrowded.
- The Afghan teachers have graduated from these same under resourced schools and have only very limited teaching qualifications, if at all. Clearly, there is a need to invest in improving the capacity of these Afghan teachers. One alternative is for these teachers to attend government run teacher training centres, which would require advocacy with the provincial government.
- Many adolescents and youths that missed out on some or all of their own education find it difficult to later return to school in order to better themselves. The classes of most interest have been literacy and numeracy classes. An adult learning programme would enable them to complete the primary classes in short period e.g. in the evenings. Once youths have acquired these fundamental skills, there are a range of vocational training opportunities they have expressed interest in, that would greatly enhance the livlihoods opportunities.
Refugees can avail the services at all public sector health facilities and pay the standard fees for these services.
Interestingly, according to the data provided by the Department of Health, Afghans constitute 50% of the total case load in all hospitals in Quetta. It is thought that many Afghans living in Afghanistan visit Quetta for health treatments as the quality of the hospitals in Quetta are significantly better than hospitals in neighbouring regions of Afghanistan.
The following health facilities in Quetta provide health services to both host and refugee communities:
- Bolan Medical Complex Hospital,
- Sandeman Provincial Hospital,
- Fatima Jinnah General & Chest Hospital,
- Helpers Eye Hospital,
- Layton Rahmatullah Benevolent Trust (LRBT) Eye Hospital,
- CENAR cancer Hospital,
- Mission Hospital Quetta,
- Lady Dufferin Hospital
In addition to these hospitals, there are 8 basic health units (BHUs) on the outskirts of Quetta to which refugees also have equal access.
The social welfare department provides services for the rehabilitation of disabled people through artificial prosthetic limbs and care of children with special needs. Refugees can also avail these services without any discrimination.
In the private sector, the following hospitals are in Quetta:
- Alkhidmat Hospital,
- SAIBAN Family hospital,
- Jam-e-Shafa Hospitals are charity hospitals which provide treatment either free or on payment of very minimal user charges.
In total there are more than 10 big private hospital which provide all services under one roof but refugees have to pay accordingly. UNHCR does support medical assistance in these hospitals for a few extremely vulnerable individuals identified within the refugee community.
UNHCR conducts a number of health projects in Quetta, including:
- Since 2009, the prevention of HIV among drug users in Quetta,
- Establishment of 40 bed intensive care unit in Fatima Jinnah General & Chest Hospital,
- Construction of a fully equipped labour room in BHU Pashtoon Bagh,
- Construction of a fully equipped labour room in BHU Killi Kechi Baig,
- Construction of a fully equipped labour room in BHU Killi Samungli,
Regarding health services, generally Afghans (refugees and unregistered migrants alike) have no issue in accessing any public or private sector health facility in Quetta. However, they have to pay the standard fees for all services, which are set centrally by the department of health. The Social Welfare Department do support poor and needy Pakistani patients using Zakat funds (a religious tax in Pakistan), for which refugees are not eligible.
Health facilities are available in almost all localities and are accessible by public transport which is utilised equally by the host and refugee communities.
Not all hospital provide the same quality of services and there are thematic gaps in the service provision of certain hospitals. A number of health projects have been completed within the RAHA programme. The following list of projects has been highlighted by the local community and provincial administration as important, but funding for the projects has not yet been confirmed:
- Strengthening of nephrology (kidney) centre in all tertiary hospitals,
- Strengthening of cold storage chain at provincial EPI warehouse,
- Renovation and rehabilitation of 3 BHUs on the outskirts of Quetta,
- Strengthening of gynaecological and observation unit in all tertiary hospitals,
- Provision of equipment to CENAR Cancer hospital,
- Strengthening of paediatric unit in all tertiary hospitals,
- Awareness of general public regarding utilisation of existing health services.
The legal assistance provided includes representation in court for foreigners act cases, legal information to PoR card holders, awareness on the rights and obligations of refugees through outreach activities by community mobilizers. It also includes holding meetings with the refugee community and sensitizing them on issues related to PoR card renewal and modification and registering the births of their children.
SEHER also conducts training for law enforcement authorities including visits to prison and police stations and FIA detention centres for meeting and interviewing both PoR and non-PoR card holders and to identity if any the detainees have asylum claims for onwards referral to UNHCR.
Other activities include a monthly radio programmes in which various legal issues affecting Afghans are highlighted, particularly relating to the PoR cards and services and refugees’ stay in the country of asylum.
Community based Jirga mechanisms and traditional resolution of grievances are available in the community. These also include local mullahs and elders who mediate and resolve issues arising in the community such as family grievances, dissolution of marriages, custody of minors by parents, and more general community issues. Refugee communities do CRS and SEHER roles as mediator. SEHER also maintains a network of community volunteers who raise any legal issues arising in the community with SEHER.
In Quetta, 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.
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.
A number of livelihoods initiatives are underway including:
- Norwegian Refugee Council has implemented skills development courses at the Technical Training Centre (a government training institute) specifically for female refugees in urban areas.
- Mercy Corps are running a training course on rearing poultry and livestock in urban areas of Quetta (70% of attendees are refugees and 30% are Pakistani).
- Save the Children are running broad skill development workshops (all refugees, 80% male and 20% female).
- CRS (Catholic relief services) are running livelihood oriented skill development trainings in urban areas of Quetta (70% of attendees are refugees and 30% are Pakistani).
- UNDP, through the RAHA programme, have conducted a number of training courses including livelihood oriented skills development, home based rearing of poultry and food preservation for refugees and the host community in urban areas of Quetta.
- UNHCR, through the RAHA programme, have implemented several livelihood projects since 2009 in urban areas of Quetta. These include a range of activities from marketing businesses to constructing skill development centres, training on the processing of solid waste and how to generate good quality fertiliser.
- Provincial government departments, including the Social Welfare department, have coordinated trainings focused on helping women to develop marketable skills. This department also manages the skills development centres that have been constructed in Quetta.
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.
- WESS is running a child labour prevention project with drop-in centres for adolescents and children.
- Society for Community Development is implementing a project for adolescents and children which includes the creation of several child friendly spaces in Quetta.
- CRS is implementing an education and child protection project where children are given awareness sessions in child friendly spaces in community based centres.
- Save the Children in 2014 established some 60 children’s clubs in government schools and provided training on disaster risk reduction as well as provision of wheel chairs for disabled children.
- In 2015, Save the Children secured funds to provide technical vocational training to some 600 Afghan youths. This project also included the provision of 300 small grants (one-time assistance) to Afghan youths to establish businesses.
Services available for child protection and SGBV survivors include the following:
- A shelter home, Darul Aman, managed by the Directorate of Social Welfare provides shelter to SGBV survivors on a long term basis.
- Benazir shelter home managed by the Women Development Department provides temporary shelter to women.
- SEHER provide legal services, psychosocial counselling and livelihoods skill trainings to SGBV survivors.
- Taraqee Foundation provides medical assistance and support to the SGBV survivors.
- DANESH provide psychosocial assistance, livelihood support, and support through community based interventions to the SGBV survivors.
- CRS is running a project to provide psychosocial counselling for refugee women while those requiring legal assistance are facilitated through the ILAC/ALAC centres managed by CRS and currently operated by IDO.
- DANESH has also established child friendly desks at 10 police stations in Quetta for reporting child sexual abuse and violence cases for legal intervention. Those cases requiring medical care are referred to the relevant providers.
- DANESH has also established child sexual abuse care units at the government, civil and BMC hospitals to provide impartial and neutral medical services and care to the referred cases of child sexual abuse without any discrimination based on gender or nationality.
Services available for people with specific needs include:
- DANESH run a protection monitoring project which includes assistance to persons with specific needs such as people with disabilities.
- Directorate of Social Welfare provides services for drug rehabilitation as well as fitting prosthetic limbs support for persons with disabilities.
- Legend society is also providing services for drug rehabilitation including testing and counselling for HIV/ AIDS.
- BRDRS is implementing a project on raising awareness and prevention of HIV / AIDS.
- DANESH together with the Milo Shaheed Trust run a project referring drug addicts to the relevant health providers, irrespective of whether they are Afghan or Pakistani. Unfortunately, to qualify for this project, Afghan PoR cardholders have to attend a court hearing. This project is only implemented in specific localities in Quetta.
While the list above looks relatively comprehensive, given the number of refugees in Quetta, these projects are often considerably over subscribed / under resourced.
Specifically with the shelter homes, many SGBV survivors do not opt to stay in this accommodation due to a complex and overly bureaucratic inclusion process and also that the accommodation is often unlikely to be a sustainable solution.
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.
Piped water infrastructure is available in some localities, however due to recent water shortages and the associated drops in the water table, coupled with regular electricity loadshedding (partial supply), most of these supply networks have not been active since 2012.
The water tankers are relatively expensive and for those households that cannot afford these services, water is collected from nearby mosques, shops, other households or nearby agricultural land.
For all of the water supply options noted above, the water is of poor quality and needs to be boiled before it can safely be consumed. However, many refugee households, do not prepare the water correctly increasing the risk of exposure to water borne diseases, especially in children.
Except for a few areas, most refugees live in localities without paved streets or adequate sewerage systems. In some areas, open defecation is still common. In other areas, refugees living in the mud walled (pukka) houses typical of the area have built pit latrines in their houses. However, these latrines are self-constructed and are generally not well designed and are known to be the cause of hygiene and sanitation issues.
Several water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects have conducted during the last few years in Quetta, including UNHCR providing drinkable water for two schools in Ghausabad and Qadriabad in 2013.
Since 2010, eight WASH projects have been completed in the RAHA programme in Quetta city, benefitting both refugees and the host population. These projects include:
- Regular training and capacity building on water use, health and hygiene.
- Formation of community working groups that are empowered to take initiative for training other community members and implementing WASH projects
- Training community members on the construction of a proper pit latrine and its usage.
- Partnership and coordination with government to improve local water supply for both refugees and host communities.