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|2021 planning figures|
|1.4 million||Afghan refugees (POR - proof of registration cardholders) will be verified and receive new biometric documentation (smartcard IDs) from the Government of Pakistan|
|500,000||people of concern will benefit from the construction/rehabilitation of 10 health facilities|
|150,000||refugees will benefit from environmentally friendly renewable energy interventions|
|61,500||refugee children will be enrolled in primary education in 137 schools in 54 refugee villages across the country|
|58,000||refugees are estimated to return in 2021|
|2019 year-end results|
|54,900||people were assisted through PoR card modification centres|
|52,200||primary school children had access to primary schools in refugee villages with the support of UNHCR|
|32,100||people received legal assistance through UNHCR’s advice and legal aid (ALAC) centers|
|6,200||Afghan refugees voluntarily repatriated to Afghanistan with UNHCR’s assistance|
|2,000||trainees received support from UNHCR to attend one of the Government’s vocational skills training institutes|
|400||Afghan refugee students benefitted from a DAFI scholarship|
People of Concern
Operational environmentWhile the July 2018 elections in Pakistan brought in a new coalition Government, the 2017 Federal Cabinet’s Comprehensive Policy on Voluntary Repatriation and the Management of Afghan Refugees remained in effect. UNHCR continued to advocate with the Government of Pakistan to implement the policy priorities, including: i) advocacy for the enactment of a national refugee law; ii) extension of “proof of registration” (PoR) cards and the Tripartite Agreement Framework beyond June 2019; and iii) implementation of a flexible visa regime for PoR card holders, enabling the acquisition of Afghan passports and Pakistani visas.
In October 2018, the Government of Pakistan approved the extension of PoR cards until the end of June 2019.
The Government of Pakistan concluded the registration of undocumented Afghans. Some 880,000 Afghans were registered, of which 45% received Afghan Citizen Cards (ACCs) by the end of the year.
The volatile security environment in Afghanistan, along with ongoing political transitions and emerging peace negotiation processes, affected refugees’ interest to return and only 14,017 PoR card holders returned from Pakistan in 2018.
Having supported the Government with the voluntary return of some 1.8 million IDPs since 2015, UNHCR has responsibly transferred its cluster lead role to the Ministry of Social Welfare while continuing to provide technical support to the authorities on protection and emergency preparedness.
Population trendsAt year end, the total population of concern to UNHCR stood at close to 1.6 million, including more than 1.4 million Afghan refugees.
Furthermore, there were close to 96,400 IDPs, a decrease from 174,350 in 2017.
Key achievementsCommunity-based protection (CBP) interventions focused on outreach and reinforced direct contact with refugees/communities, focusing on building resilience at the community level. They aimed to support access to services and capacities of the communities to identify and address the needs of people with specific needs and engaged the provincial/federal authorities and development partners to enhance refugees’ access to national public service delivery systems, in particular health and education services.
UNHCR also worked with host communities with a view to strengthen social cohesion and improve acceptance of refugees through the Refugee Affected and Hosting Areas (RAHA) platform.
UNHCR worked with the Government of Pakistan to ensure that the flexible visa system would be implemented in a manner that provides necessary protection safeguards for PoR cardholders opting for various visa categories.
UNHCR continued facilitating voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees, although the number of those opting for voluntary repatriation reduced significantly due to challenging security environment, incipient political transitions, uncertainty regarding ongoing peace process and the lack of economic opportunities in Afghanistan.
Unmet needsLack of funding under RAHA negatively affected the mainstreaming of refugees into public schools and health facilities as the public system faced various challenges, including low absorption capacity and the quality of services provided due to inadequate facilities.
Youth empowerment through improved livelihoods opportunities continued to be one of the major focuses in 2018. Many refugees expressed a willingness to learn new technical and vocational skills that would enhance their self-sufficiency and resilience while they are in Pakistan as well as upon their return to Afghanistan.
Prevention, identification, and response to SGBV requires additional attention. Community outreach revealed limited community coping mechanisms and understanding of SGBV which resulted in challenges for UNHCR and partners to identify and address SGBV within refugee communities.
After nearly four decades of protracted displacement, Pakistan still hosts over 1.3 million registered Afghan refugees, holders of Proof of Registration (PoR) cards. The Solutions Strategy for Afghan refugees to support voluntary repatriation, sustainable reintegration and assistance to host countries (SSAR) remains the overarching framework for solutions to Afghan displacement.
While over 370,000 Afghan refugees repatriated in 2016, by contrast the magnitude of return is expected to be less in 2017, with some 55,000 people having returned as of end October.
In February 2017, the Federal Cabinet approved the National Plan on Voluntary Repatriation and Management of Afghan nationals that initiates a flexible visa regime for different categories of Afghans and commits to adopt a national refugee legislation. In line with this policy, the Government also launched a six-month programme to register undocumented Afghans residing in Pakistan.
The Refugee Affected and Hosting Areas (RAHA) programme, another key element of the SSAR, will continue to provide enhanced support to host communities and promote peaceful co-existence.
UNHCR and partners are also planning for the return of people who were displaced from North Waziristan in Pakistan in 2014 and remained in Afghanistan.
In 2018, UNHCR will focus on:
- Facilitating voluntary repatriation in close collaboration with the Governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan;
- Community-based protection interventions, with a focus on access to services, furthermore UNHCR will work with the authorities and all stakeholders to enhance access of refugees to national public services, in particular health and education;
- Providing legal assistance to Afghan refugees in ten Advice and Legal Aid Centers (ALAC) and supporting NADRA, the national registration agency, in birth registration and modification of PoR card services;
- Enhancing its outreach to host communities to strengthen social cohesion and acceptance of refugees, using the RAHA platform;
- Supporting the Government in the process of enactment of the national refugee legislation and capacitating the structures responsible for its implementation;
- Engaging with the World Bank to support solutions and provide assistance to refugees and host communities.