IOM Afghanistan seeks to assist individuals in humanitarian need across the country, while at the same time building in-country capacities and the resilience of affected populations to work toward ensuring the ability to mitigate risks and respond to crises in a sustainable manner. In pursuing this goal, IOM works with government and humanitarian partners within the framework of the humanitarian-development-peace nexus.
The migration context in Afghanistan is multi-faceted and complex, with the country simultaneously serving as a place of origin, destination and asylum. After 40 years of sustained conflict and violence, five million Afghan nationals continue to reside in Pakistan and Iran. In 2019, a total of 32 out of 34 provinces also reported some level of conflict-induced forced internal and external displacement. In addition, according to the Humanitarian Needs Overview, since 2014, more than 4.2 million Afghans have returned, both voluntarily and forcibly, from abroad to over 11,400 settlements across Afghanistan, increasing pressure on already limited infrastructure, social services and public structures.
Additionally, thousands of people suffer annually due to increasingly frequent natural disasters, such as floods, landslides, avalanches, droughts and other such hazards. These natural disasters, compounded by the context of ongoing conflict, have resulted in hundreds of thousands of people becoming displaced, both within the country and across borders into neighbouring countries. As the impacts of climate change begin to be felt more acutely in Afghanistan, it is expected that natural disaster incidents will increase over the response plan period.
While humanitarian access remains an issue in Afghanistan, IOM's Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) programme had access to virtually all 420 districts, and the humanitarian coordinator reported that humanitarian agencies were able to provide assistance in at least 371 districts in 2019. In an attempt to secure access to the entire country, negotiations are currently underway at the highest level with the government and non-government actors.
IOM believes that collaborative humanitarian, transition, and recovery programming is a cornerstone of resilience and sustainability. This is reflected in the updated definition of humanitarian action included in the Humanitarian Response Plan 2020, which now recognises the importance of transition and recovery work, in addition to purely humanitarian responses. In addition to the humanitarian needs in-country, the development needs are similarly acute, with Afghanistan ranking 168/189 in the 2019 Human Development Index. While actors such as the World Bank have tried to address development needs, there remains a large gap between humanitarian and development interventions. The genuine need to transition funding modalities requires programming that not only addresses humanitarian needs but also includes development and peace elements to help ensure that Afghanistan can transition effectively to a more sustainable modality of assistance. This is reflected at the One UN level in-country with a shift toward a whole-of-system ‘Triple Nexus’ approach towards programming.
Persons of concern in the Afghanistan context are largely Afghan by nationality. They include conflict- and natural disaster-induced IDPs, undocumented returnees from Iran and Pakistan, and communities vulnerable to the impacts of conflict and natural disasters throughout the country.