Safety of refugees: Toll-free number issued to register harassment complaints

PESHAWAR: A toll-free number has been circulated to assist Afghan refugees in registering complaints against harassment.

The decision has been taken in light of a vast number of cases involving Afghan refugees who are being harassed at the hands of the police.

According to a notification, all Afghan refugees with Proof of Registration (PoR) cards can contact the IGP directly if any police personnel demands bribes from them or harass them. The number is operational 24 hours a day. The IGP has ensured action against any police official caught harassing refugees or demanding bribes.

On the other hand, Afghan refugees are facing police harassment as the practice of arbitrarily stopping them at public places and demanding bribes has become commonplace. Refugees with PoR cards also feel threatened when they leave their homes as they are often cornered by the police and a bribe ranging between Rs5,000 and Rs10,000 is demanded.

Order of the day

Speaking to The Express Tribune about one such incident, Riaz Gul, an Afghan national who owns a mobile shop in Board Bazaar, said harassment has become the order of the day.

“My brother was on his way back to the shop when policemen arrested him and demanded Rs10, 000 near Aman Chowk,” he added.

According to Gul, the border issue has radically altered the way locals react to the Afghan nationals.

“I can’t even go to pray at a nearby mosque as I fear the police will arrest me even though I have all the necessary documents in my pocket,” Gul said.

In the past, the federal government had extended the deadline for registered Afghans residing in the country.

In large numbers

According to data compiled by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), 1.5 million Afghan refugees live in different parts of Pakistan, out of which 1 million resided in K-P. In addition to this, the K-P Home and Tribal Affairs Department said over 1 million Afghan nationals reside without registration in K-P and Fata.

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