A toll-free helpline for homeless Afghan refugees has been established in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Blue Veins, a local social organization in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, has launched a toll-free helpline “Marasata” (0800-02828) in collaboration with the United Nations agency IOM Pakistan to help and provide information to homeless Afghan victims of gender-based and sexual violence in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and to support them in accessing legal, psychological, protective, and other referral services.

In this regard, a ceremony was organized in a local hotel in Peshawar in which UN agencies, local civil society organizations, representatives of government agencies, and other people from different walks of life and homeless Afghans attended.

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The participants of the event were told that the increasing incidence of sexual and gender-based violence around the world, including in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is a cause of great concern. The government has established many institutions to prevent them, and social organizations are creating awareness among the public. However, victims of sexual and gender-based violence are facing difficulties in reaching institutions that provide access to services, which need to be facilitated.

Given the negative impact of gender-based and sexual violence on displaced Afghans, this helpline aims to provide the victims with the necessary help and support. Before the launch of the ‘Marasata’ helpline, the information of all the service providers had been collected to help the victims access effective services.

Inaugurating the helpline, Fazal Rabi, Director SSU, Afghan Commissionerate said: “The Government of Pakistan and the Afghan Commissionerate are committed to providing security to the Afghan community and protecting them from all forms of harassment, violence, and abuse. Support will be given to all local and international organizations providing their services within the legal framework.”

Amir Hamza, Protection Coordinator of IOM in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said that providing support to displaced Afghans and making their lives free from violence and easier is our top priority, and social organizations and the government together have an important role to play in this regard.

Qamar Naseem, program manager of Blue Veins, said on the occasion that it is crucial that all victims of gender and sexual violence, especially homeless Afghans, can be connected to the institutions that provide them with the necessary services, including legal support, psychological support, and facilities to improve their lives.