UNHCR welcomes Afghanistan's new IDP policy

Briefing Notes, 11 February 2014

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 11 February 2014, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR welcomes a new national policy in Afghanistan on the rights of the internally displaced people (IDP).

Launched today in Kabul, Afghanistan's new IDP policy seeks to ensure the protection of rights of the displaced, aims to find solutions for people affected by conflict and natural disasters and sets out the roles and responsibilities of the different government ministries, humanitarian and other partners.

UNHCR provided support and technical assistance to Afghan authorities in drafting this new policy.

An estimated 630,000 people remain internally displaced inside Afghanistan due to conflict with 55% of those living in urban areas. We are seeing an annual increase of 22% in internal displacement, as the numbers continue to rise. Over 124,000 became displaced in 2013 alone.

We are encouraged to see the newly adopted policy acknowledging the central responsibility of the government to prevent conditions leading to displacement, to minimise unavoidable displacement, as well as to mitigate and resolve its adverse effects without delay.

Communities hosting IDPs and Afghan refugee returnees not be able to return to their areas of origin will also be supported.

It establishes that it is the primary responsibility of the government to provide emergency assistance, longer term support and effective protection to displaced persons in Afghanistan. This responsibility exists regardless of the cause of displacement, and applies whether displaced persons are living in settlements, with host families, in rural or in urban settings, and inside or outside their province of origin.

With the implementation of the policy the displaced will not lose the rights or entitlements enjoyed by other citizens. In particular, it recognizes that all Afghans, including displaced persons, have the right to freedom of movement and residence.

Furthermore, Afghans will have the right to integrate in the place where they are living, return to their place of origin, or to relocate to a new place. Under no circumstances will displaced people be encouraged or compelled to return or relocate to areas where their lives will be at risk.

UNHCR understands the challenges that the Afghan government will have in implementing the policy and, together with other humanitarian agencies, stands ready to help and assist Afghanistan in seeking solutions for the internally displaced.

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