PESHAWAR: Commissionerate for Afghan Refugees (CAR) with the support of UNHCR and German donor agency (GIZ) established Urban Refugees Support Unit at the commissionerate here on Monday.

The newly-established unit would serve as the secretariat for all the urban refugee support units in each district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The unit would operate on the basis of referral system and would have separate desks for health, education, livelihood, protection and repatriation issues related to the Afghan refugees settled in urban and semi-urban areas of the province.

An official statement said that Chief Commissioner Afghan Refugees Mohammad Saleem Khan inaugurated the unit. He said that establishment of the unit was necessary as off-camp refugees in the province faced serious problems in terms of sustainable livelihoods and a range of protection risks and discrimination.

He also pointed out significant difference in access to basic services, assistance, adequate shelter, sanitation and physical security in the informal settlements on the outskirts of the cities.

Currently a total of 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees (PoR card holder) are living in Pakistan and 52 per cent of them are residing outside camps while 48 per cent are living in 43 camps in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Around 307,000 Afghans having Afghan Citizen Cards (ACC) are also living outside camps in the province.

Commissioner Afghan Refugees Mohammad Abbas Khan said on the occasion that shifting of refugees to urban areas resulted in a multi-dimensional complex situation with a pressing need to address the problems of urban refugees and host community in a more comprehensive manner.

He said that it was imperative to look after management of refugees living in urban, semi-urban and rural areas to address the concerns of host communities as well as Afghan refugees.

The head of UNHCR sub-office in Peshawar, Bernard Inkoom, in his remarks stated that with the establishment of the new unit, the matters regarding urban refugees would be resolved.

Evelyn Maib-Chatré, the head of project, GIZ-EHS, appreciated the efforts of commissionerate for the well-being of Afghan refugees in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. She reiterated Germany’s commitment to support Pakistan for hosting the world’s largest protracted refugee population for over 35 years.

Published in Dawn,May 24th, 2022

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