KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah in a meeting with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative, Ruvendrini Menikdiwela, decided to enumerate Afghan refugees living in Sindh particularly in Karachi. At an introductory meeting with the representative on Tuesday at the Chief Minister’s House they discussed Afghans and other refugees living in the city and the rehabilitation of street children.
Menikdiwela informed Shah that the UNHCR had a $200 million fund for the rehabilitation of street children. The work could begin once they were given the no objection certificate (NOC) for it, she said. Shah directed Home secretary and Karachi commissioner to issue NOC to UNHCR for the rehabilitation of street children in the city.
There are reportedly over 1.5m children living on the streets in the country and of those, 30,000 are in Karachi. The Sindh government has imposed a ban on beggary by children and plans on establishing shelter homes for their rehabilitation.
The chief minister said that the provincial government has no idea about the number of refugees living in Sindh. He asked the UNHCR to enumerate them so necessary measures could be taken to provide them with basic facilities such as water, food and other resources accordingly.
According to a UNHCR report, Pakistan is home to at least 1.38m registered Afghan refugees and over 50,000 of them live in Karachi. Another million refugees are living in the country outside of the formal refugee registration system. These figures are not accepted in most circles however, particularly in Karachi.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 6th, 2019.