The UN and ICRC have recorded that 730,000 people have been internally displaced in Afghanistan due to conflict since 2006, an average of 400 a day. At the end of January 2011, 309,000 people remained internally displaced due to armed conflict, human rights abuses and other generalised violence. This figure was higher than at any time since 2005.
While armed opposition groups have been responsible for the majority of killings, most of the documented mass displacements have occurred as a result of offensives by international forces. Efforts by the International Security Assistance Force in 2010 to limit the impact of fighting on the civilian population have failed to reduce the rate of internal displacement.
The basic needs of recently displaced people across most regions of the country are often unmet, increasing the risk of disease and death. Internally displaced people (IDPs) have also been vulnerable to food insecurity, while insecurity and the absence of basic services in places of displacement have forced many IDPs into protracted secondary displacement in urban areas. The Afghan government is generally unable or unwilling to assist IDPs. Hundreds of thousands of IDPs have been assisted by international agencies, but assistance outside camps has been short-term and restricted by problems of funding and access.
Recommendations for policy development: International forces should minimise new displacements caused by their forces on the ground. This can be achieved through the adoption of standard operating procedures that oblige troops to take concrete action to protect civilians and their needs before, during and after military activities, and by the development of monitoring and reporting mechanisms on forced internal displacement.
International governments should ensure independent assessments of damage to IDPs' property and compensate those whose losses result from military operations. They should also take every necessary measure to safeguard the distinction between humanitarian action and political or military agendas necessary for humanitarian organisations to operate efficiently in all rural areas of the country.
The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan should give a higher priority to the protection and assistance of IDPs by developing a comprehensive IDP policy which corresponds to international standards, strengthen the coordinating role of the Ministry of Refugees and Returnees and, with the support of international donors, provide the necessary means to match their obligations to protect all IDPs in Afghanistan.