Pakistan and Tajikistan have received hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees in just the last year, due to the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan since 2021. The influx of refugees, in combination with existing strains on available resources and services, has heightened tensions between host and refugee communities. Instances of societal and legal harassment, discrimination, threats, and violence toward religious minority communities are frequent and prolonged.

Equal Access Promotes Peace-Building Initiatives in Communities Hosting Afghan Refugees in Pakistan

Fostering Religious Tolerance for Peace (FRTP), an $815,000 project funded by the U.S. Department of State since 2021, is designed to work in targeted areas of Pakistan and Tajikistan to build awareness and knowledge of how protecting the religious rights and freedoms of all Afghan refugee communities is critical to reducing discrimination and increasing community cohesion and resiliency. With the support of the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Equal Access International (EAI) along with International Alert, RIWI Corp, and Kadam Communications and Consultants (KCC) aims to reduce violence, discrimination, and threats against members of Afghan refugee communities, based on their religious beliefs or practices. 

To ensure a safe and welcoming environment for all Afghans, EAI works in Afghan communities in Pakistan and Tajikistan to mitigate tensions around religious rights and freedoms. Together with local partners EAI increases understanding of barriers, resources, and needs of hosts and refugees, thereby increasing awareness of religious pluralism and the importance of religious freedom.

The project relies on several community-led outreach tactics to advance these objectives. Community Advisor Groups (CAGs), with EAI and KCC staff, legal experts, religious and community leaders, UNHCR, civil society groups and government bodies, meet regularly to ensure content created for radio programming and broadcasting is relevant, culturally sensitive, targeted and easily understandable. 

EAI also creates and supports audio content for a radio drama in local languages on issues that reinforce the promotion of peaceful, tolerant and resilient communities. Additionally, EAI and KCC produce and disseminate public safety announcements through social media and other communications channels.

In both countries, EAI works with local organizations to establish a solid foundation for continued engagement in ongoing activities. Meetings with local journalists and members of Afghan communities address the potential sensitivities related to various project activities, and provide insight from local perspectives. The project also identifies suitable facilitators for Religious Tolerance Round Table discussion groups (RTDGs), which are conducted across diverse locations, thus playing a pivotal role in facilitating meaningful conversations and nurturing a culture of respect for religious diversity.


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