Challenges of IDP Protection: Research study on the protection of internally displaced persons in Afghanistan

The number of people forced to flee their homes in Afghanistan is increasing and the conditions for the displaced are falling well below international standards, according to a new study by the Norwegian Refugee Council. “The rising trend of conflict-induced displacement is extremely worrying”, warns Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council Elisabeth Rasmusson.

A new report, published today by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and its Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), presents new evidence highlighting the worrying conditions faced by the growing number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) across Afghanistan. More than 166,000 internally displaced Afghans have been recorded in 2012 alone, bringing the total number of internally displaced due to conflict to at least 460,000.

“People displaced within Afghanistan now represent the most damaging and visible impact of the conflict, with those affected living in life threatening conditions and in dire need of assistance” says Prasant Naik, NRC Afghanistan Country Director.

The study finds that the internally displaced in Afghanistan overwhelmingly lack employment, sufficient food and water supplies and are living in poor quality housing or shelters – typically in tents or unsubstantial mud homes offering little protection against the cold: during the winter of 2011-12, over a hundred displaced children in informal settlements in Kabul died of cold. In displacement, families report facing obstacles to find health services and to access education for their children, with over a third of the displaced children lacking access to schools.

Over half of the people surveyed identified the Taliban and other anti-government groups as the key cause of insecurity in their home communities and the primary driver of their displacement. Most of the displaced report that they cannot foresee returning ‘home’, with over 75% planning to settle permanently in their new location.

“At a time of security transition, with international military forces preparing to exit Afghanistan by 2014, it is worrying to witness the increasing number of people forced to flee. The international humanitarian effort to support these vulnerable Afghans is needed more than ever” says Rasmusson.

In assessing the ability of the Afghan government and humanitarian agencies to respond to the growing internal displacement crisis, the research reveals worrying gaps in protection and assistance owing to the challenges of collecting information and coordinating responses in a context of increasing insecurity and where many humanitarian actors tasked with collecting data on displacement have limited access to those most in need. The Afghan Government response to the displacement crises has also been inadequate. Insufficient funding, capacity and lack of expertise on part of central and local authorities means conditions for the displaced, both during period of displacement and during the course of return have fallen well below international standards.

“The sheer scale of the growing displacement crisis currently underway in Afghanistan has caught the Afghan Government and the humanitarian community by surprise and appropriate response is falling far short of the level of need faced by displaced people across the country” says Naik.

Note to Editors:
“Challenges of IDP Protection: Research study on protection of internally displaced persons in Afghanistan” is a joint report by NRC, IDMC, Samuel Hall Consulting and the Joint IDP Profiling Service (JIPS) and based on extensive surveying of over a thousand IDP households in five provinces (Kabul in the central region, Nangahar in the east, the southern province of Kandahar, the western province of Herat and Faryab in the north-west).

Press contacts: Phone numbers:
Dan Tyler, Protection and Advocacy Manager, NRC Afghanistan +93 (0)700 030 436 (Kabul)