Sanctuary in the city? Urban displacement and vulnerability in Peshawar, Pakistan

Research reports and studies
May 2013
Pakistan has one of South Asia’s highest rates of urbanisation and is one of the world’s largest host countries for refugees, including an estimated 2.7 million Afghans. In recent years it has also seen increasing numbers of internally displaced people (IDPs) due to conflict and disasters. Peshawar, the capital of KP province, has become one of the largest recipient cities for refugees and IDPs in South Asia. It is also one of the poorest: an estimated 29% of KP’s population lives in poverty (UNDP, 2012).

Through interviews and group discussions with IDPs, Afghan refugees and longer-term residents of Peshawar, as well as government officials, aid agencies and others, this study examines the challenges of displacement in a context of rapid urbanisation.

The findings indicate that many of Peshawar’s poor residents, whether displaced or not, face serious problems in terms of sustainable livelihoods, access to basic services such as adequate shelter and sanitation, and physical security. However, displaced populations, both Afghan refugees and IDPs, face additional challenges and threats that require significant attention, most serious of which is related to legal status and documentation, which in turn affects their access to services and livelihoods and their ability to move freely around the city.

This study is part of a series of studies on urban displacement, which so far has included case studies on Nairobi, Kenya; Yei, South Sudan; Damascus, Syria; Amman, Jordan; Kabul, Afghanistan; and the Gaza strip.