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Society for Human Rights and Prisoners' Aid (SHARP-Pakistan)

Striving for a Human Rights friendly Pakistan

success story

Relocation of Afghan Refugees-93 families protected

Almost 93 Afghan families (539 individuals having PoR cards) were living in the village Noor Pur for the last 20 years. Noor Pur village comes under the jurisdiction of Police station Rango in Tehsil Hazroo, district Attock. District Attock in Punjab is considered one of the most sensitive locations in Pakistan because of the military installations, Airbase (Kamra) and its geographical location (provincial border of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa). In terms of accessibility, there are many hotspots/prohibited areas where access is restricted for foreigners without NOC. In some areas, access of local population is also limited/prohibited without prior approval. The village Nur Pur is located at a distance of around 3 km from the Kamra Airbase and falls under the prohibited area of Attock. According to the police officials, there were reports from intelligence departments of serious security threats to the Kamra Airbase therefore the area needed to be immediately cleared from the refugees (foreigners). In a meeting with the District Police Officer (DPO) Attock, it was reported that Afghans had been repeatedly asked to move to a non- prohibited area. In case of any security incident, they would not be given much time to vacate the area.

All the families were ethnic Pashtuns (Kuchis) mainly engaged in farming and livestock for livelihood, living in mud houses constructed on the rented land owned by the locals.

The community elders contacted SHARP-Pakistan and informed that they were in trouble as they had received eviction orders (24 hour notice) by the Police Station Rangoo. ALAC team visited the community who shared that they were planning to return to Afghanistan by the end of April 2017 however, it was not possible to leave the areas within 24 hours. ALAC team met with the Station House Officer at the Police Station Rangoo who shared that written orders had been received from the higher officials (based on intelligence report) regarding security threat therefore he had to comply with orders. The team advocated on behalf of the refugees to extend the timeline to one week.

Meanwhile representative from local politician gave a false hope to Afghan community to resolve the issue of vacation and ensured that Police would not harass them.

After one week, the community members again contacted SHARP-Pakistan and informed that Police had threatened them to vacate the area immediately.

ALAC team met with the DPO Attock along with the Kuchi’s Representative in Punjab, Mr.Bahudur (Afghan refugee). The DPO shared that Police had no issue with these Afghans but as orders were received from the intelligence departments therefore they had to follow the instructions. He further stated that in case of any security incident, police/LEAs would conduct search operation to vacate the area within 3-4 days.

SHARP-Pakistan team shared with the DPO that Afghans were concerned about their crops and advance payment which they had made to the land owners. The DPO assured that they would be given access to their land until they had harvested their crops. Police helped them to get their advance payments.

The refugee community agreed to move to an alternate place (non-prohibited) in Attock. SHARP-Pakistan team requested UNHCR to provide them tents as construction of mud houses in winter would be difficult and time taking.

A list of 93 families/539 individualswith their PoR card numbers was shared with UNHCR and was verified by the ALAC team.

FUI team brought the issue to the attention of the CAR Punjab to seek his advice and support for possible intervention.

Upon confirming the alternate site, UNHCR tents were provided to affected Afghan families.

Through SHARP-Pakistan’s timely interventions and advocacy/liaison with Police for the protection of poor Afgan refugees, 93 families of Afghan community got shelter, protection and saved money in shape of crops.