Pakistan + 3 more

Regional Population Movement - Afghanistan: Preparedness and Response - Operation Update #2, DREF Operation n° MDRAFRPM21


To date, this Emergency Appeal, which seeks CHF 24,600,000 is 25% funded. Further funding contributions are appreciated to enable the National Societies in the region neighboring Afghanistan, with the support of the IFRC, to continue with the preparedness efforts of and provide humanitarian assistance and protection to people on the move from Afghanistan.


Description of the crisis

As the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan continued to worsen in 2021, the risk of displacement increases both within the country and beyond its borders to neighboring countries. While daily cross-border population movements are still moderate, the risk of economic collapse and further deterioration of Afghanistan's socioeconomic and security situation cannot be ruled out, potentially leading to more people fleeing to neighboring countries.

The situation in Afghanistan remains highly fluid after the change of government in August 2021. Since then, various public services were halted and disrupted due to the uncertainties. The country is going through a change process, and it is expected that the situation will remain fluid in the coming months. Along with the political shift, the combination of natural disasters, severe drought, flooding and COVID-19 pandemic had increased the humanitarian needs exponentially and the country is on the brink of collapsing if the humanitarian and development services are not provided immediately. The security situation remains unpredictable with reports of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) explosions throughout the country causing injuries and deaths to both civilians and the personnel of Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan. Close to 700,000 people were internally displaced by conflict in 2021. The uncertain internal situation has potential to trigger mass movement of people in the neighbouring countries.


The government of Pakistan policy toward irregular movements from Afghanistan to Pakistan remain unchanged. To date, there are no official reports of new arrivals of refugees and asylum seekers from Afghanistan, consistent with the government’s decision not to accept any additional refugees in the country. However, there are reports of people moving between the countries. Even with limited cross border movement, those who have crossed into Pakistan from Afghanistan since August 2021 have already placed additional stress on the highly vulnerable host communities and weak health systems. There are already an estimated three million Afghans in Pakistan, including both refugees and unregistered and/or undocumented Afghans.

In the second week of December the government of Pakistan announced the repatriation of Pakistani families from Golan Camp, Afghanistan, back to Pakistan through Ghulam Khan Pass, on the border in North Waziristan. A total of 6,000 families are expected to return. This recent development places further stress on the host communities and already fragile health system.

As of 30 December, government authorities (PDMA) reported voluntary returns of 1,268 Pakistani families (4,867 individuals or external TDPs), mostly women (1,273) and children (2,571) with their livestock. Currently all returning families reported to live off camp with host communities, mostly located in Bannu district, KP. NADRA has started verification/registration of returning individuals while government is providing a monthly cash allowance for food assistance. Upon return to their de-notified/cleared areas, the families will receive a one-time return cash allowance with transport support. The district administration is requesting PRCS to provide assistance to the coming families on Ghulam Khan Pass.


Iran shares a 921-kilometer border with Afghanistan and is home to one of the world's largest refugee populations, primarily Afghans. According to data published by the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, Iran sheltered more than 3.4 million Afghans, including nearly two million undocumented migrants and 800,000 refugees in 2020.

Several thousand Afghans continue to make their way across the border into Iran every day. Most Afghan refugees enter the country illegally through unofficial border crossing points and lack the necessary documentation to fully access essential services, while official borders between Afghanistan and Iran remain limited for asylum seekers.

Economic sanctions imposed on Iran have had an impact on the limited number of humanitarian organizations operating in the country. There have been reports of difficulties in transferring funds and importing goods, resulting in delays in the delivery of aid.


Since the beginning of second quarter of 2021, Tajikistan had been observing a slight increase in migration of Afghan population across border to Tajikistan as refugees and asylum seekers. This influx rapidly increased immediately after the formal announcement of US troops withdrawal from Afghanistan mid-August 2021, increasing the risk of mass-influx in Tajikistan. The Tajikistan government’s policy guided the planning for potentially receiving a controlled number of additional Afghan refugees in country. The policy also underlined further development of shelter and settlement strategy for an anticipated Afghan influx in country.

In the course of 2021, the total number of refugees and asylum seekers has notably increased, reaching over 12,000, of whom 1,2713 refugees departed to Canada in December. The officially registered number of new arrivals in 2021 was 3,0144 persons. The new arrived people on the move are hosted in seven pre-defined locations (Dushanbe, Vahdat, Hisor, Sharihnav, Rudaki, Sughd, Khatlon) with existing Afghan refugee and asylum seeker population. The new arrivals have increased the humanitarian needs in the country.

Ongoing tension in the North-Eastern Territories of Afghanistan bordering Tajikistan, and at locations across Afghanistan border with Taliban activities continue to pose the likelihood of population arrival in Tajikistan. In preparation to the anticipated influx (50,0005), the Tajikistan government has identified 7 entry points through border checkpoints (BCPs) north of Kunduz, Takhar and Badakhshan provinces that are situated along the Panj River and natural borderline which span the riverine border. In addition, informal migration can also be expected. Based on historical migration trends, a significant increase in cross border people movement in spring can be anticipated, due to the end of the current existing harsh winter conditions.

The Humanitarian community under the refugee coordination structure of UNHCR is committed to support the planning and preparedness for a potential mass influx of Afghan population in Tajikistan, as current collective humanitarian capacities in country to respond to such an influx are limited.