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UNHCR Global Appeal 1999 - Pakistan


UNHCR Global Appeal 1999 - Pakistan

1 December 1998

Basic Facts

What we do

Protect Afghan refugees and facilitate their voluntary return; strengthen refugees' self-reliance; and protect and assist refugees who are from places other than Afghanistan.

Whom we help

1.2 million Afghan refugees; 2,500 other refugees (including Somalis, Iraqis, Iranians and others).

Our requirements

US$ 16,732,247

Our offices

Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta.

Our partners

Government of Pakistan, SAVERA counselling Services, Danish Committee for Aid to Afghan refugees (DACCAR), International Rescue Committee (IRC), Kuwait Joint Relief Committee, Union Aid for Afghan Refugees, Serving Emergency Relief and Vocational Enterprises (SERVE), Pakistan Red Crescent, Afghan Medical Welfare Association, GTZ/COPE (Basic Education for Afghan Refugees), Save the Children fund-USA, Mercy Corp International (MCI), Frontier Primary Health Care, Ockenden Venture, Church World Service (CWS), Health Net International, RIFAH Foundation, Skills for Employment and Self Employment Agency, Sayyad Jamaluddin Afghani Welfare Organization, Radda Barnen.


UNHCR has been working to protect and assist Afghan refugees in Pakistan since 1980. A majority of the 1.2 million Afghan refugees live in refugee villages in North-West Frontier Province, Baluchistan and Punjab. In addition, the agency conducts refugee status determination procedures and offers protection and assistance to another 2,500 refugees of various nationalities.


While many refugees have reached a satisfactory level of self-sufficiency, it is critical for UNHCR to maintain, improve and, in certain instances, expand the supplementary assistance provided in the fields of education, vocational training, health care, water supply and community services. These programmes are designed so they do not constitute or create "stay factors." Services in the 127 refugee villages registered in Pakistan operate with a high degree of community participation. The involvement of refugees prepares them for taking full responsibility for their communities upon return to Afghanistan.

Since non-Afghan refugees lack a legal status in Pakistan, those residing in urban areas do not hold work permits and have limited access to national social services such as education and health care. In coordination with UNHCR, Savera Counselling Service trains refugees in specific skills which allow them to work in the informal sector, and provides micro-credit loans which enable them to start up small-scale businesses. Refugees also receive limited cash assistance to help them meet their needs.

Protection and Solutions

The new targeted group repatriation strategy involves: identifying groups of refugees from specific, relatively peaceful districts of Afghanistan who express a desire to return; noting the key obstacles which prevent them from doing so; and working to remove those obstacles. Some 10,000 refugees had returned under this programme by September 1998. UNHCR also continues to promote accession to the 1951 Refugee Convention as well as the adoption of national refugee legislation. In this 50th anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UNHCR is organizing events to redress public perceptions of Afghan refugees as a source of destabilization within Pakistan.


Resettlement is considered mainly for cases involving family reunification and security issues, including women-at-risk. UNHCR works closely with the embassies of resettlement countries in Islamabad.

Women and Children

Women comprise 45 per cent of the refugee population in Pakistan; school-age children make up an additional 38 per cent of that population. Through its implementing partner, Savera Counselling Service, UNHCR organizes activities which address issues of concern to women such as domestic violence, nutritional training and income generation. Children receive education assistance that covers tuition fees, books, school materials and uniforms. UNHCR seeks to increase opportunities for girls to receive a formal education and for adult females to acquire literacy and additional technical skills while they are in Pakistan. Specific projects have been devised to address the special needs of adolescents as a follow-up to the Graca Machel study on the affects of conflict on children. In cooperation with UNFPA, culturally and ethically sensitive reproductive health care is included in primary health services. Additional health services are implemented by the Government of Pakistan and ten NGOs under the health sector funded by UNHCR. Following the withdrawal of bilateral donor support, UNHCR has provided financial assistance to NGOs and, in doing so, has strengthened its own coordinating role. The 316 refugee committees (including 126 for women) provide the main fora for refugee participation in protection and assistance activities. Dialogues with the community and religious leaders have helped win women greater access to health, education and income-generating activities.


The presence of a large number of Afghan refugees is increasingly resented among local communities, especially during times of economic decline. Although the Government's official policy toward Afghan refugees has not changed, refugees, especially those living dispersed in urban areas, are likely to face an increase in protection problems. Protecting refugees is a difficult business in Pakistan because the country is not a signatory to the 1951 Convention or its 1967 Protocol, nor has it formally passed any national legislation on refugee issues. Indeed, frustrated refugees demanding resettlement frequently harassed UNHCR staff during 1998.

Prospects for large-scale repatriation to Afghanistan are dim as the conflict in the country shows no sign of abating.

Budget US$

ActivitiesGeneral ProgrammesSpecial Programmes
Domestic Needs/Household Support1,131,7401,667,839
Water Supply352,084
Community Services544,036
Legal Assistance/Protection33,466409,127
Agency Operational Support547,134907
Programme Delivery Costs*2,559,600373,251
Administrative Support465,900273,774
TOTAL GP + SP16,732,247