Humanitarian Situation And Needs
The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan has dramatically worsened due to the ongoing armed conflict, withdrawal of military forces and the Taliban advance accelerating in August 2021, resulting in many Afghans being forcibly displaced and a sharp increase in civilian casualties being documented. The Taliban in recent weeks have gained control of many districts and key border posts with neighbours Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan limiting movement of affected Afghans.
Afghans already constitute the largest protracted refugee population in the world. From 1 January 2021 to 9 August 2021, 558,123 individuals fled their homes due to conflict and a total of 32 out of 34 provinces had recorded forced displacement.5 Among the newly displaced people in Afghanistan this year, 79% are women and children.6 As the situation in Afghanistan remains complex and uncertain, it is estimated that nearly half of Afghanistan’s population (around 18.4 million people) are currently in need of lifesaving humanitarian assistance. Many Afghans desperate to leave remain outside Kabul and far from any airport. With the security situation in the country rapidly deteriorating, many families have been separated and have been unable to get emergency exit visas and flights.
Nearly half of Afghanistan’s population (around 18.4 million people) are currently in need of lifesaving humanitarian assistance.
Over 5 million Afghans are displaced in the country and across borders. In 2021, 558,123 individuals fled their homes due to conflict including 126,000 new IDPs between July-August 2021.
Between 1 January and 30 June 2021, 5,183 civilian casualties (1,659 killed and 3,524 injured) were documented, an increase of 47 per cent compared with the first half of 2020.
Among the 550,000 or so newly displaced people in Afghanistan this year because of the conflict, 79% are women and children.
Situation of Afghan Refugees in India
There are over 19,000 Afghan students and over 1,000 patients currently in India on medical visa facing uncertainty on their visa extension. In addition to that, approximately 21,000 Afghan refugees are currently in India, of which 60% have not yet received refugee cards. These refugees arrive on short-term visas but are not guaranteed visa extension to remain in India. Moreover, the procedure for grant of refugee cards is often a lengthy process with frequent delays from authorities. Many have faced difficulty in applying for identity cards owing to lack of awareness on procedure and cost and discrimination by local authorities. Lack of recognised identity and protection documents makes it harder for refugees to seek remedies and access essential services. This leaves refugees, particularly women and children, susceptible to harassment, intimidation and threats and deter them from reporting incidents of violations.
In addition to dealing with their personal challenges, restrictions are imposed in movement, housing, employment, education, and access to banking and other public services. Banking systems in Afghanistan have collapsed and many Afghans in India have been left without the financial support of their families. Women and children have been left particularly vulnerable and without support. Further, qualification earned out of country will likely not be recognized, representing another barrier for some refugees to find employment suitable for their skill and experience levels.
Since the Afghan refugee community aims to resettle to other countries due to limited rights and entitlements in India, legal and documentation assistance is urgently required. While in India, Afghans also have to deal with food insecurity, limited access to healthcare, education, and housing, loss of livelihoods, and constraints around legal assistance and identity documentation. While there are some government policies for them, there is no support system to help them develop comprehensively. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these challenges jeopardising the well-being of affected families.