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Afghanistan Situation Regional Response Plan (RRP) January - December 2022

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Regional Overview


The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan deteriorated dramatically in 2021, with significant consequences for the most vulnerable among the population. Even prior to the events of August 2021, the year had seen the highest number of conflict-related casualties on record and a striking decline in the security and human rights situation in large parts of the country. According to OCHA, close to 700,000 people (59 per cent children and 21 per cent women)1 have been newly internally displaced by conflict in 2021, bringing it to a total of 3.4 million displaced by conflict inside Afghanistan as of December 2021. The situation remains uncertain and may evolve rapidly. The upsurge of violence across the country in 2021 and instability has had a serious impact on civilians and, combined with hardships caused by political uncertainty and the economic and food security situation, may cause further displacement, both internally and across borders. This would add to the 2.2 million registered refugees from previous waves of violence, and a further four million Afghans of varying status including undocumented persons. Many have been generously hosted in the Islamic Republic of Iran (hereafter “Iran”) and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan (hereafter “Pakistan”) over the past four decades, with several generations of Afghans being born in exile. With increased flows of new arrivals through official and unofficial border crossing points since the beginning of 2021and increases in those approaching UNHCR, UNHCR has pre-screened over 68,000 newly arriving Afghans who may be in need of international protection in neighbouring countries.2 The majority of those interviewed by UNHCR report leaving Afghanistan for security-related reasons. The total number crossing into neighbouring countries can be difficult to verify as undocumented Afghans may resort to irregular land border crossing points, in many cases due to restrictive border policies, non-registration, and limited information shared by the concerned authorities. As such, the overall number of Afghans in need of international protection is likely to be much higher. Despite UNHCR issuing a non-return advisory calling for a bar on forced returns of Afghan nationals in the current circumstances,3 there have been an increasing number of reports concerning deportations of Afghans from neighbouring countries. An analysis of available data and information has indicated a 190 per cent increase in the deportation rate from Iran in August 2021 compared to the same period in August 2020.4In order to prepare for a potential worst-case scenario of influx into neighbouring countries, in August 2021, UNHCR led an interagency Refugee Preparedness and Response Plan for the remainder of 2021. The plan, which had 11 partners across the same five countries as the RRP 2022, focused on ensuring that emergency preparedness measures were in place, ensuring access to asylum including respect for the principle of non-refoulement, as well as reprioritizing certain underfunded elements of existing programmes for in-situ populations, in support of national systems and in furtherance of durable solutions. With Afghans and host communities in neighbouring countries facing increased challenges, the compelling need for greater burden- and responsibility-sharing from the international community remains. In line with the Global Compact on Refugees, the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR) and the SSAR Support Platform launched in 2019, and the Sustainable Development Goals, the inter-agency 2022 Refugee Response Plan (RRP) for the Afghanistan situation will support host governments in their efforts to promote resilience, aiming to ensure that no one is left behind and that the needs of Afghans and their host communities are met. The 2022 RRP will focus on a response to existing populations in the neighbouring countries of Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, including registered Afghan refugees and asylum-seekers, Afghans of varying statuses including undocumented persons, host communities, and potential new arrivals. The RRP builds on the collective work already being done in these countries and promotes an area- and needs-based approach. There is a need for coordinated area-based investments in health, education, clean and renewable energy, vocational and entrepreneurship skills development, and social protection to support national systems and the progressive policies of the host governments, which benefit both refugees and their host communities. These investments will also aim to build the human capacity and resilience of Afghans and enable sustainable voluntary return and reintegration. In addition, there is a need to enhance programmes and activities providing specialized support and assistance to the most vulnerable Afghans and members of the host community.