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70pc Afghan refugees born, bred in Pakistan: survey

November 30, 2012

PESHAWAR, Nov 29: Pakhtuns make the most of 1.6 million Afghan refugees registered in Pakistan, while around 70 per cent of them were born and bred as refugees in the country, according to a nationwide survey.

“Pakhtuns constitute 82 per cent of the total Afghan refugee population in Pakistan and they are followed by five per cent Tajiks and four per cent Uzbeks and other ethnic groups,” said the findings of the Population Profiling, Verification and Response Survey of Afghan Refugees done by States and Frontier Regions ministry and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 2011.

According to a news release issued here Thursday, around one million Afghan refugees in Pakistan were interviewed for the survey, which examined the specific needs of Afghan refugees and generated accurate and detailed description of registered Afghan population, including information about intention to return to their country, livelihoods, socio-economic and legal conditions.The survey revealed that around 20 per cent of working Afghans had collectively invested over Rs18 billion in business in the country.

It said the government had issued Proof of Registration Cards to refugees and they would expire by the end of December.

According to the survey, around 70 per cent of Afghan population was under the age of 18 and that most were born and raised in Pakistan.

Around 360,000 of the total of 1.6 million registered Afghan refugees have already planned to return to Afghanistan in the coming years.

The voluntary repatriation, which has seen more than 3.8 million Afghans return home over the last 10 years, remained at the centre of the ‘Solution Strategy for Afghan Refugees’, which was endorsed at an international conference in May this year in Geneva.

The refugees, who didn’t want to return to their country, cited insecurity, unemployment and lack of shelter major reasons for it.

The survey revealed that 22.53 per cent of the refugees were economically active and of them, men accounted for 85.59 per cent of the total workforce.

According to it, the Afghan workforce comprises mostly adults aged between 25 and 59, while 31.3 per cent is made up of youths aged from 15 to 24.

Members of the two groups make 90 per cent of the total refugee population.

The survey said many refugees were currently working as unskilled labourers - mostly as sales workers, or in the construction, handicraft and transportation sectors.

According to it, 70 per cent of the refugees have one earning family member, while six per cent of the households have no breadwinner.

The survey said in education sector,43 per cent of boys and 67 per cent of school-age girls were never enrolled in schools.

It added that a high dropout rate prevented most Afghan children from completing primary education.