Fleeing War, Finding Misery: The Plight of the Internally Displaced in Afghanistan

Roqia, 13, in her home in the Kart-e-parwan slum in Kabul, June 2011.
Report
February 23, 2012

Fleeing War, Finding Misery: The Plight of the Internally Displaced in Afghanistan

Conflict affects more Afghans now that at any point in the last decade. The conflict has intensified in many areas, and fighting has spread to parts of the country previously deemed relatively peaceful. The surge in hostitilities has many obvious consequences, among them that families and even entire communities flee their homes in search of greater security.

Four hundred people a day are displaced in Afghanistan, on average, bringing the total displaced population to 500,000 by January 2012.

Such internal displacement is on the rise. Conflict-induced internal displacement increased rapidly in the first half of 2011 -- the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that nearly 100,000 people were internally displaced between January and June of that year. The number of displaced persons has increased every year since at least 2008.

Tens of thousands of these displaced individuals have sought shelter in and around Kabul and other Afghan cities. Precise numbers are difficult to determine, but as many as 35,000 displaced persons are now living in slum areas in Kabul alone.

They make do as best they can, finding abandoned lots and constructing makeshift dwellings from mud, poles, plywood, plastic sheeting, and cardboard that offer them little protection from the elements. Nearly two dozen displaced children under the age of five froze to death in January 2012.

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