PESHAWAR: Chief Commissioner Afghan Refugees, Muhammad Saleem Khan on Monday inaugurated newly established Urban Refugees Support Unit at the Commissionerate for Afghan Refugees, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
This newly established unit would serve as the secretariat for all the Urban Refugee Support Units in each district of the province.It will operate on the basis of a referral system and will have separate desks for health, education, livelihood, protection, repatriation and other issues related to the Afghan refugees settled in urban and semi-urban areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Currently, a total of 1.4 million registered Afghan Refugees (Proof of Registration cardholder) are living in Pakistan.
Some 52 per cent of refugees are living outside camps while 48 per cent reside in 43 camps in the province. A total of 307,000 Afghan Citizens having Afghan Citizen Cards (ACC) are also living outside camps in KP.
Speaking on the occasion, the chief commissioner of Afghan refugees stated that the establishment of this unit was necessary as off-camp refugees in KP face serious problems in terms of sustainable livelihoods and a range of protection risks and discrimination. He pointed out a significant difference in access to basic services, assistance, adequate shelter, sanitation, and physical security, in particular in the informal settlements on the outskirts of the cities. Commissioner Afghan refugees KP, Muhammad Abbas Khan, stated that the shift of refugees to urban areas had resulted in a multi-dimensional complex situation with a pressing need to address the issues of urban refugees and host communities in a more comprehensive manner.
He said that it was imperative to look after the management of refugees living in urban, semi-urban and rural areas to address the concerns of host communities as well as Afghan refugees. Head of UNHCR, Sub-Office Peshawar in his remarks stated that the matters regarding urban refugees, especially protection issues will be resolved in an efficient manner with the establishment of this unit which would ultimately improve the living conditions of Afghan refugees in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Zubair Ali, Mayor Peshawar, lauded the efforts of the Commissionerate for Afghan Refugees, KP , UNHCR and GIZ for their unprecedented support in managing the huge caseload of Afghan Refugees in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and especially in district Peshawar.