South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

As the Afghan government continues to restore stability, infrastructure, and services to Afghans, it has pledged to better support those displaced from their homes by militancy and other disasters.

As if having to pull up stakes and leave your belongings behind weren’t bad enough, many of these internally displaced people (IDPs) struggle to find work to support their families.

“In Uruzgan, I have land for farming and a very nice home, but I cannot live there because of militancy,” said Nawab Khan, an IDP from Uruzgan Province. “I have lost members of my family, and the militancy forced us to leave our home.”

Nawab currently works in Kabul, but he makes only 300 AFN (US $5.50) per day – not enough to support his 10-member family.

The country’s leaders have come to realise this and are working to ease the problem as the Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations (MoRR) implements a new policy to improve conditions for IDPs affected by the militancy across the country, officials say.

The policy aims to prevent further displacement and to provide the best possible care and services to those who have been forced out of their homes. It also will help them to re-establish themselves and continue on with their lives.

“The policy was developed through a process of broad consultations, which was led by the MoRR to find long-term solutions for [IDPs],” MoRR spokesman Islamuddin Jurrat told Central Asia Online.

Work on the new policy began last year and receives support from the Inter-Ministerial Co-ordination Committee for Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons (IMCC).

“MoRR will ensure that approaches to internal displacement are based upon respect and protection of the rights of the displaced persons,” Jurrat said.

The policy is a step toward building long-term, durable solutions, based on the Afghan constitution, international human rights, humanitarian law, and the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.

The policy clearly outlines the government’s responsibility to provide emergency assistance, long-term support and effective protection to IDPs in Afghanistan, irrespective of the causes for their displacement, their physical locations or their specific situations, Jurrat said.

IDPs welcomed the plan.

“The government has promised that operations for the betterment of the security situation in the county are under way; it has explained the plans to settle us back in our homelands; you know, we are very happy to hear this,” said Gulajan Akhtar, who was displaced from Maidan Shahr of Maidan Wardak Province.

IDPs in Afghanistan

A total of 492,777 Afghans were displaced by the end of January, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) March 2013 Fact Sheet. An even larger number are thought to live abroad.

“It is not always easy to clearly identify the factors that force individuals or groups to flee,” Sharafuddin Azimi, a Kabul University lecturer and IDP researcher, said. “The reasons for displacement in Afghanistan are often multi-causal and multi-faceted.”

The security situation is one of the main reasons behind Afghan displacements, UNHCR spokesman Nader Farhad told Central Asia Online, adding that the UNHCR pursues innovative practices to gain access to people of concern, track population movements and provide assistance to the vulnerable through a network of partners throughout the country.

Hope for the future

Although it may bring challenges, living as an IDP is better than the prospect of staying in the militancy-affected areas where one’s life is constantly in danger.

“We cannot go back to our area because we will be killed,” Mohammad Khan told Central Asia Online from a refugee camp in Kabul. “I came [here] from Helmand with my family members … because of armed conflict.”

The new IDP policy is one more sign that normality may be nearing in Afghanistan.

And many IDPs who have fled from militant violence hold out hope for an eventual return to normality.

Kabul IDP Mohammadullah Rafiq was displaced from his home in Maidan Wardak Province because of deteriorating security with militant violence.

“[Now] I am studying here,” he said, adding that his family also received help from the government, NGOs, and Afghan businesspeople. “I hope the situation will improve and that we will be going back to our hometowns soon.”

Source: Central Asia Online, 27/6/2013: