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|2018 year-end results|
|15,700||Afghan refugee returnees received cash grants to help address their immediate needs|
|13,000||IDP households received core relief items and 7,300 households received hygienic supplies|
|64%||of 15-24 year old refugee returnees were enrolled in certified livelihood trainings|
|61||community-based projects were implemented across the country, in an effort to increase absorption capacity and facilitate returns and reintegration|
|2019 planning figures|
|60,000||returnees will receive sectoral cash grants|
|50,000||refugee and IDP households will receive core-relief items|
|50,000||Afghan returnees will receive skills training for livelihood purposes|
People of Concern
Operational environmentAfghanistan remained the largest and most protracted refugee situation in the region. Renewed insecurity, conflict and drought drove displacement in Afghanistan in 2018, with an estimated 270,000 conflict-displaced IDPs and 230,000 displaced by drought. The displacement crisis had a significant impact on the country’s existing services, limiting absorption capacity and creating a challenging environment for the sustainable reintegration of returnees and IDPs.
During the year, UNHCR facilitated the voluntary repatriation of some 15,700 Afghan refugees – a decrease of 73% compared to 2017. The reduction in returns can be seen, in part, as a result of the challenging security environment, incipient political transitions, uncertainty regarding ongoing peace processes and the lack of economic opportunities in many parts of the country.
Population trendsAt year end, the total number of people of concern to UNHCR in Afghanistan stood at 2.76 million. This included 15,700 Afghan refugees who returned and 72,200 persons who fled North Waziristan, Pakistan in 2014.
UNHCR estimates that at least 2 million Afghans were displaced countrywide due to conflict and natural disasters at the end of 2018, including people displaced internally in previous years.
Key achievementsThe application of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) in Afghanistan (announced July 2018), supports the alignment of national strategies with regional frameworks – including the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR) – through a whole of society and whole of community approach.
In order to promote community empowerment and peaceful co-existence, UNHCR implemented community-based protection (CBP) projects in 61 communities across the country, benefiting some 440,000 refugees, returnees, IDPs and members of host communities. Activities included a range of infrastructure development projects under the WASH, health and education sectors and contributed to facilitate returns and reintegration.
As part of the coordinated UN response to the drought in the western region (Herat and Badghis), UNHCR urgently procured and delivered 15,100 family tents. The Office also provided tents, kitchen sets, hygiene kits, and non-food items to some 14,000 households who had been displaced due to conflict. UNHCR’s winterization activities were planned in coordination with the Government of Afghanistan and emergency shelter/NFI cluster, ensuring that vulnerable families received assistance in a timely manner.
Unmet needsDue to funding shortages, the Office was unable to implement some 40% of its planned CBP projects in 2018. UNHCR’s programme for persons with specific needs was only able to provide a limited response to a fraction of the most vulnerable individuals across Afghanistan. As Afghanistan rolls out the CRRF, the Government will require more support from the international community at both central and local levels to be able to implement the provincial action plans.
Afghans remain the largest refugee population of concern to UNHCR in Asia. The volatile security situation in Afghanistan continues to drive displacement, with more than 200,000 people forced to flee their homes in the first eight months of 2017.
While over 370,000 Afghan refugees repatriated in 2016, the rate of return has steadied in 2017, with some 55,000 people having returned as of end October.
The ‘Solutions Strategy for Afghan refugees to support voluntary repatriation, sustainable reintegration and assistance to host countries’ (SSAR) remains the overarching framework for solutions to Afghan displacement.
UNHCR supports the Council of Ministers’ sub-Committee on Migration, the Minister for Return and Reintegration, and is also an active participant in the Government’s Displacement and Return Executive Committee (DiREC), which is designed to plan and respond to displacement within Afghanistan and to the reintegration of returnees.
Internal displacement in Afghanistan is expected to continue in 2018, reflecting the overall security situation in the country. UNHCR will continue to work with the authorities to ensure protection and durable solutions and to lead the inter-agency protection and shelter clusters.
In cooperation with the authorities, UNHCR will also pursue community-based, solutions-oriented interventions for the most vulnerable displaced families from Pakistan’s North Waziristan Agency.
Each Afghan refugee returnee is given $200 in one of the four encashment centers (in Herat, Jalalabad, Kabul and Kandahar) to meet immediate humanitarian needs and transport costs to place of origin or destination. Basic services, awareness and child protection, returnee monitoring and assistance to people with specific needs are also provided. UNHCR also conducts returnee monitoring upon arrival at the encashment centres, and carries out phone surveys and community surveys upon settling into communities.
Based on returnee monitoring findings, programmes are developed in close collaboration with development partners, to ensure sustainability of returns and to mitigate protection risks. This includes: building community centres for women and youth; income-generating activities and linking them to markets; promoting women’s participation in decision-making through women’s shuras committee; and training and job creation for youth, in partnership with the private sector.
UNHCR leads the Protection (including co-leadership of the Housing Land and Property Task Force) and the Emergency Shelter and Non-Food Items clusters, providing core relief items and emergency shelter assistance to vulnerable displaced people. UNHCR also distributes cash and in-kind winterization packages.
UNHCR leads the response to the vulnerable displaced families from Pakistan’s North Waziristan Agency, transiting from emergency to targeted assistance for people with specific needs and strengthening self-reliance and resilience for the overall caseload.
The Office collects, verifies and analyses information to collate evidence for advocacy efforts towards access to land and documentation, among others.
The organization will continue strengthening the link between humanitarian and development through partnerships with development actors and the private sector.