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Afghanistan: deteriorating displacement crisis requires urgent attention and increased resources

KABUL / GENEVA (20 October 2016) – A United Nations expert on internally displaced persons (IDPs), Chaloka Beyani, today called on the Government of Afghanistan to intensify its efforts to meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of IDPs as a deteriorating security situation leads to dire warnings of massive new displacement.

At the end of a follow-up visit* to the country, Mr. Beyani also urged the international community “to remain consistent humanitarian and development partners at this critical time.”
The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons expressed grave concern over escalating conflict and IDP figures. In the first ten months of 2016, according to UN agencies, over 323,000 Afghans were internally displaced across the country in areas accessible to humanitarian actors alone, continuing an upward trend witnessed over the last four years.

“Warnings by humanitarian partners suggest that many more IDPs could be displaced by the end of the year, yet attention and resources allocated to their needs seem to be waning rather than increasing in line with the growing challenges and need for durable solutions,” he stated.

“The displacement picture in Afghanistan is changing as the conflict evolves and intensifies,” Mr. Beyani explained. “Displacement is becoming more protracted for more people as the security situation has led many to make the difficult decision not to return to their homes.”

In that regard, the rights expert called on the Government and its international humanitarian and development partners to continue emergency responses, while they should also dedicate more attention and resources “to finding development-based sustainable solutions for those in protracted displacement.”

Mr. Beyani, who visited IDP locations around Kabul, Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif during his fact-finding visit, met with numerous IDP communities, both relatively newly displaced and those who have been displaced for several years.

“During my ten-day mission, IDPs described to me their experiences of displacement, sometimes multiple times, due to conflict and insecurity. Many thousands live in dire conditions and face abject poverty on the margins of urban centres, often with little or no long-term assistance,” he said. “They described their priorities as access to land, improved housing, education facilities, also for girls, healthcare clinics, water and sanitation, and livelihoods.”

“The onset of winter will bring additional challenges for already vulnerable IDPs while resources to support them are dwindling,” the Special Rapporteur warned. “In September 2016, the UN issued a Flash Appeal for US$ 150 million to meet urgent needs, including winter assistance packages, by the end of the year. I urge the donor community to respond generously and rapidly to that call.”

The expert pointed out that the commitment of donors, partners and the Government of Afghanistan to improving the lives of Afghans through the Brussels Conference held in October 2016 has provided a positive momentum. “I hope, and I encourage partners to ensure, that the funding and national initiatives within this framework for development fully include IDPs and their hosting communities who require both immediate and longer-term assistance,” he added. 

The Special Rapporteur noted that many IDPs lack National ID cards or ‘Tazkira’, which restricts their access to services and justice, and education for their children. “It is no exaggeration to speak of a lost generation of displaced Afghan children deprived of education since children constitute about 56 per cent of the displaced population,” he stated.

He praised the Government for demonstrating the political will to address the IDP situation. However, a National IDP Policy, while a positive step, remains largely unimplemented in practice. National institutions charged with IDP responses lack resources and capacity to fulfill their functions. The influx of tens of thousands of Afghan returnees from Pakistan has further increased pressure on the Government and its international partners to resolve the situation of other vulnerable groups.     

The Special Rapporteur, who visited the country for the second time at the invitation of the authorities, thanked the Government for its cooperation with his mandate as well as UN and other national and international partners. He will produce a comprehensive report and recommendations for presentation to the Human Rights Council in June 2017.

(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s full end-of-mission statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=20712&LangID=E

Mr. Chaloka Beyani is a Professor of International Law at the London School of Economics and was appointed Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons by the Human Rights Council in September 2010. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IDPersons/Pages/IDPersonsIndex.aspx

UN Human Rights, country page - Afghanistan: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/AFIndex.aspx

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