Afghanistan

Fears for safety and welfare of Afghans displaced by worsening conflict

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GENEVA, 28 October 2008: In a report released today, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) called attention to the situation of internally displaced Afghans who have fled the intensifying conflict and worsening humanitarian crisis. The current fighting in the southern and south-eastern provinces and insecurity spreading throughout Afghanistan have raised concerns that significant numbers of civilians are being forced to flee. These displaced people are likely to be in urgent need of security, shelter, drinking water, food and medicine. However, severe limits on access to insecure areas mean there is no way to gauge the scale of the displacement crisis, let alone provide the assistance they need.

An unprecedented number of attacks, murders and harassment of humanitarian aid workers is severely undermining the ability of humanitarian agencies to reach displaced Afghans in need. 2008 is already the worst year on record for civilian casualties and attacks on NGO workers, with 29 workers killed so far in 2008 alone.

"Afghans who are fleeing the worsening conflict will be some of the most vulnerable people in the country," said NRC Secretary General Elisabeth Rasmusson. "They may not only have lost their homes, family members and livelihoods, but they are receiving practically no support. The tragedy for these people is that as their needs are rising, our ability to reach them is dramatically decreasing.

" In addition to the unknown number of people displaced by the ongoing conflict, some 200,000 Afghans have remained displaced since before 2004 due to ethnic tensions, human rights violations, and natural disasters such as drought and flood. They continue to struggle to rebuild their lives in areas of displacement, while those returning from years spent abroad as refugees and economic migrants are finding it equally hard to reintegrate. Tens of thousands of Afghans who have returned to their country in 2008 have been unable go back to their original homes due to insecurity, landlessness and lack of livelihood opportunities.

Note for editors:

For more information, visit IDMC's Afghanistan country page, or contact Nina M. Birkeland, IDMC Head of Monitoring and Advocacy, on +4122 795 07 34 or at nina.birkeland@nrc.ch. The Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, established by the Norwegian Refugee Council, is the leading international body monitoring internal displacement worldwide. Regularly updated information on all situations of conflict-induced displacement is available from the IDMC's website, www.internal-displacement.org.

View the report

Afghanistan country page

The Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), established by the Norwegian Refugee Council, is the leading non-governmental body monitoring conflict-induced internal displacement worldwide.