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Community Structures – Abbottabad

There are no community structures for refugees in urban settings. Nevertheless, the general relationship with the host community is friendly.

Most refugees in this area have no knowledge about their rights or about organizations working for their betterment. The refugees overall situation could be improved in this area by raising awareness within the community about what services are available and refugees’ rights.

Community Structures – Charsadda

In Charsadda, while there are no community structures for refugees in urban settings, the general relationship with the host community is good.

Most refugees in this area have no knowledge about their rights or about organizations working for their betterment.

The refugees overall situation in this area could be improved by raising awareness within the community about refugee rights.

Community Structures – Haripur

In Haripur, there are no community structures for refugees in urban settings. There is social cohesion among the refugees and the host community.

Most of the refugees have rented houses and have good relations with their landlords.

Refugees do report cases of police harassment and difficulties accessing government health facilities.

Urban refugees in Haripur currently receive very limited assistance.

Community Structures – Islamabad

In Islamabad and Rawalpindi, xenophobia exists and while no direct offenses against the refugee community are practiced, the relationship with the host community remains tense.

The vast majority of the refugee population are well aware of the available services (e.g. RSD and ALAC). However, refugees know little about RAHA projects and more information could be disseminated about these projects. Also, the host population could benefit from a better understanding of refugees’ rights. Opportunities to achieve this abound and include inviting the host population to world refugee day and other refugee related activities.

The community structures for Afghan refugees in Islamabad and Rawalpindi also remain surprisingly limited.

Community Structures – Karachi

In Karachi, the refugee population mostly lives in scattered urban locations with very limited community structures. However in district Malir in union councils 4 and 5 there are larger refugee populations with organised committees. The committees are organised thematically and include protection, education, health and water & sanitation. Meetings with the refugee community are held in local schools or mosques.

Relationships with the host community are often tense. To a certain extent this is mitigated by interpersonal relationships between the refugee community and specific sectarian or ethnic groups within the host community e.g. the Ismaili sect through the Agha Khan network and the relatively close relationships between Afghan and Pakistani Pashtuns.

The majority of the refugee population are well informed about the refugees’ rights and services that are available (e.g. RSD & ALAC).

However, refugees know little about RAHA projects and more information could be disseminated about these projects. Also, the host population could benefit from a better understanding of refugees’ rights. Opportunities to achieve this abound and include inviting the host population to world refugee day and other refugee related activities.

Community Structures – Kohat

Local refugee “Shura” committees are active at Union Council level in Kohat.

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.

Community Structures – Lahore

There are no community structures for refugees in urban settings although community meetings do take place in Hujra’s, business points and the SHARP (UNHCR RSD IP) office in Lahore.

The general relationship with the host community is peaceful and members of both communities often work together in businesses.

There are occasionally issues resulting from xenophobia and the trigger is usually the perception of the additional burden of Afghan refugees on the country of asylum’s economy.

Most of the refugee population are aware of the refugee specific services that are available (e.g. VRC, RSD and ALAC).

Refugees in Lahore would benefit from the establishment of more formal community structures, particularly in localities in which Afghan refugees are clustered.

Community Structures – Mansehra

In Mansehra, there are no community structures for refugees in urban settings. The relationship with the host community is friendly, although refugees do report cases of police harassment and financial extortion.

The refugees overall situation could be improved in this area by raising awareness within the urban community about refugee rights. Historically, there have been very few refugee projects conducted in Mansehra.

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.

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.

Community Structures – Peshawar

Three refugee committees have been established, focussed specifically on urban refugees.

The committee members in each team were provided trainings, skills and information on UNHCR mandate, its protection and assistance for the persons of concern. Communal locations like Hujras or Schools are utilized in the Urban setting, but the tense security situation and the imposition of administrative orders seriously undermines these committees planned activities.

In addition, these committees effectiveness could be additionally improved with better coordination with the administrative and security counterparts within government. Greater engagement with government could provide the necessary legal framework for the functioning of the established refugee communal structures.

The key issues in Peshawar are land ownership and rental agreements and the relatively high cost of living in urban areas coupled with limited external assistance from government or the international humanitarian community.

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. This has resulted in a significant increase in 2015 of raids of locations in which Afghan refugees reside, resulting in elevated numbers of arrests, detentions and deportations. Financial extortion by the host population is also reported to be on the increase.

In Peshawar, Advice and Legal Aid Centres (ALAC), media campaigns and frequent meetings with the authorities on all levels are underway to find an amicable solution to the heightened tensions. In addition, the Refugee Affected and Hosting Areas (RAHA) programe initiatives continue to be designed to promote peaceful coexistence.

The refugee community at large is aware of all the activities and services available. The most effective communication channels continue to be outreach visits and helpline services.

Further formalising and empowering the refugee committees would help to resolve the issues noted above as well as greater outreach by UNHCR and partner organisations.

Community Structures – Quetta

The Afghan communities in Quetta have some formal structures for community participation, supported under the UNHCR community development project implemented by WESS. In addition, informal structures exist in almost all the locations and are usually formed by specific tribes. The informal decision making community structures almost always consist of men, with very limited participation by women.

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.

Community Structures – Rawalpindi

In Islamabad and Rawalpindi, xenophobia exists and while no direct offenses against the refugee community are practiced, the relationship with the host community remains tense.

The vast majority of the refugee population are well aware of the available services (e.g. RSD and ALAC). However, refugees know little about RAHA projects and more information could be disseminated about these projects. Also, the host population could benefit from a better understanding of refugees’ rights. Opportunities to achieve this abound and include inviting the host population to world refugee day and other refugee related activities.

The community structures for Afghan refugees in Islamabad and Rawalpindi also remain surprisingly limited.

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 – Abbottabad

The following schools are all located in Abbottabad:

  • Abbottabad Public School (APS),
  • Abbottabad Jamia Public School,
  • Al-Imtiaz Academy,
  • Army Burn Hall College (ABHC),
  • Army Public College Kakul Campus (APC),
  • Aligarh Public School & College,
  • Banat Public School & Girls College,
  • Beaconhouse Hassan Town,
  • Beaconhouse Liaquat Road,
  • Bloom Hall Public School,
  • Concept School of Learning,
  • Creations – Academy of Fine Arts Abbottabad (0992341146),
  • Gandhara Public School,
  • Government Girls’ College #1,
  • Government Girls’ College #2,
  • Government Girls’ High School #1,
  • Government Girls’ High School #2,
  • Government Girls’ Higher Secondary School Comprehensive,
  • Government High School #1,
  • Government High School #2,
  • Government High School #3,
  • Government High School #4,
  • Green Valley Public High School P.M.A Road,
  • Hazara Hills Academy,
  • Mangal Public School,
  • Modern School System,
  • Modernage Public School,
  • Lime Light Public School,
  • Pakistan International Public School and College (PIPS),
  • Pine Hills Public School,
  • Pakistan Public Academy Chinar Road,
  • Present Times Public School,
  • Progressive College of Sciences,
  • Rahber Public School,
  • Roots School System,
  • Tameer-e-Wattan Public School,
  • The Muslim Education System,
  • The City School

Post secondary:

  • NIMS College of Medicine (pending approval for recognition from CJ SC following corruption allegations against PMDC officials),
  • Kingston School For Deaf & Hearing Impaired Children Kehal,
  • Kingston School For Mentally Retarded Children Kehal,
  • Kingston School For Physically Challenged & Visual Challenged Children, Kehal,
  • Gate Way School And College,
  • Abbottabad Government Postgraduate College #1,
  • Abbottabad Government Postgraduate College #2,
  • Ayub Medical College,
  • Ayub Teaching Hospital,
  • School of Nursing,
  • College of Dentistry,
  • Institute of Nuclear Medicine, Oncology and Radiotherapy,
  • COMSATS,
  • Frontier Medical College,
  • Government College of Management Sciences,
  • Government College of Technology,
  • Emerson College of Technology,
  • Emerson Degree College of Commerce and Management,
  • Hazara University,
  • Muslim College of Management Sciences,
  • University of Science and Technology,
  • UET,
  • Women Medical College,
  • Oregon Institute of Education,
  • Punjab Group of Colleges

Military:

  • Pakistan Military Academy,
  • Army Physical Training School,
  • Army School of Music,
  • Regimental Training Centres of the Pakistan Army ,
  • Baloch Regiment (BR),
  • Frontier Force Regiment (PIFFERS),
  • Army Medical Corps (AMC)

No further information on education facilities or issues is available in Abbottabad.

Education – Karachi

Public schools which Afghan refugees attend include Government Primary School Boys & Girls, particularly Abidabad, Banaras, Gulistan Johar, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Machar colony, Malir, Shah Faisal, Shahdaman Town, Songal and the Citizen Foundation Schools in Ittihad town and Metrovil.

Private schools which are popular with Afghan refugees include:

  • Al-Ahmed Grammar School in Orangi town,
  • Al-Qadeer Children Academy in Baldia town,
  • Ali Public School Camp in Jadid,
  • Crescent Public School in Ittihad town,
  • Course Wahdate School,
  • Falcon Grammer School,
  • Ghazi Amanullah School,
  • Iqra public School in Kemari town,
  • Khyber School Camp in Jadid,
  • Sonrise Public School in Orangi town,
  • Syed Jamaluddin Afghani School,
  • Urooj Public School in Korangi

In Gadap town, there are also several schools specifically for Afghans, which follow the Afghan curriculum.

A number of projects within the RAHA programme have helped to improve local education facilities, including:

  • Renovation of existing buildings and construction of new classrooms, washrooms and boundry walls in government schools in union councils 4 and 5 in Gadap town – an area in which approximately 50% of Afghans in Karachi are thought to reside.
  • Books, stationary and sporting materials were provided to refugee schools following the Afghan curriculum in union councils 4 and 5 in Gadap town. These schools also benefited from teacher training (male and female teachers).

It is usually not possible for Afghan students to gain admission to government education facilities as in Karachi, these tend to only be available to the host community. These schools are also often substantial distances from the refugee communities with only limited public transport available.

As many Afghan families live in extreme poverty, they cannot afford to send their children to private schools instead and are therefore only able to send their children to one of the Afghan schools in Karachi, which are heavily oversubscribed. Therefore, enrolment rates are thought to be particularly low (60% of boys and just 40% of girls enrolled in primary schools).

The following issues have been observed in Karachi:

  • While the Sindh government has agreed that refugees should be admitted to government schools without prejudice, greater advocacy with the government will be required to achieve this in practise.
  • Community run schools have proved popular with Afghan refugees, but are oversubscribed and require support in terms of logistics, the construction of additional rooms as well as training of teachers.
  • Establishment of education committees at community level that can take ownership of the education issues within each community.