(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - Afghanistan's new policy to help more than 600,000 internally displaced people, many of whom live on the brink of starvation and in cramped makeshift dwellings, is a milestone, said Amnesty International. However, the organization warns that it will only succeed with sustained political and financial backing.
The Afghan government is expected to launch on Feb. 11 its new national policy aimed at meeting the urgent human rights and humanitarian needs of the internally displaced persons (IDPs), more than 100,000 of whom have fled conflict in 2013 alone.
"Increased protection for Afghanistan's displaced, many of whom live in desperate conditions, has been a long time coming. We applaud the government for finally pushing this crucial policy through," said Horia Mosadiq, Amnesty International’s Afghanistan researcher.
"The IDP policy could go a long way to improving the lives of more than half a million displaced persons but it needs sustained political backing and funds. This has to be more than just a promise on paper - we'll be watching to see how much the government actually achieves over the next year."
The IDP policy, drafted by the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation with U.N. assistance, has been several years in the making. It contains many innovative measures that could dramatically improve the lives of displaced Afghans, in particular women, children and the elderly.
This includes helping IDPs integrate within new communities and protecting them against forced evictions from their new homes. The policy crucially also recognizes IDPs as defined under international law, which should result in hundreds of thousands more having access to much-needed assistance.
"We're delighted that many of our recommendations have been taken on board," said Mosadiq.
"For this IDP policy to have any real chance of success, however, effective coordination between the government, NGOs, international agencies and donors is vital. Those who have been forced to flee their homes deserve better than continuing misery and dire poverty."
Amnesty International is also calling for independent oversight of the policy's implementation, including public reporting on continuing challenges.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million members in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.