Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons on his mission to Afghanistan (A/HRC/35/27/Add.3)

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Human Rights Council
Thirty-fifth session
6-23 June 2017
Agenda item 3
Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development

Note by the Secretariat

For decades, conflict has been an almost constant presence, and, for many, internal displacement has become a regular occurrence or a permanent feature of life. The trends are negative and worsening. In 2016, more than 600,000 people in Afghanistan fled conflict to seek safety in other areas of the country. In that period, an average of 1,500 people a day were forced from their homes. The Government is struggling to cope as international attention to Afghanistan wanes. An influx of refugees and undocumented Afghans pushed back from Pakistan has increased the burden on the Government, which lacks resources and capacity. With displacement and returns likely to increase in 2017, further escalation of the conflict and displacement crisis would overwhelm the capacity of the Government and its partners to respond effectively.

The current system of national institutions does not meet the needs of many internally displaced persons and should be reviewed. While the political will to protect them is emerging, this has not translated into comprehensive and effective Government-led responses. The National Policy on Internally Displaced Persons is a commendable policy tool to guide government responses, but its implementation has been poor and it has remained a neglected resource. Responses to short-term displacement are barely adequate, while those who are in protracted displacement, often for years, are commonly left to fend for themselves. While government officials blame resource shortfalls for lack of progress, a deficit of good governance and accountability are contributing factors that must be addressed.

A new commitment is required from the Government to meet the needs of internally displaced persons. The particular challenges experienced by children and by displaced women and girls, including forced and early marriage, must be better addressed. Despite the challenges, some positive practice is taking place that demonstrates that progress towards durable solutions is possible for those in protracted displacement situations. In Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif, interventions in cooperation with local authorities are securing landownership or occupation rights, providing homes, essential services and livelihoods. However, such positive practices are the exception and must be extended and replicated for the benefit of many thousands more internally displaced persons in desperate need throughout the country.