Almost three-quarters of Afghan refugees who return home are forced to flee again due to violence, according to a survey that found the vast majority of displaced families do not receive aid assistance.
The , commissioned by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, comes after a on Save the Children’s office in Jalalabad on Wednesday, which killed three, wounded 26 and forced the organisation to temporarily close its Afghan operations.
The research found 72% of those who have returned to after living as refugees abroad have been displaced at least twice.
Jan Egeland, the secretary general of the NRC, said Norway, Britain, Pakistan and Iran should “freeze deportations and rethink their policies” on the war-torn nation.
“The rhetoric that things are better in Afghanistan and therefore we can return people is not correct. Immigration ministries are saying it’s safe to return, but this shows it’s not true,” Egeland said.
“Now is not the time to deport Afghans. War-torn Afghanistan today is no place to be returned to. Decision-makers are likely to regret the massive involuntary returns at a time when conditions are worsening all over Afghanistan. It can destabilise the whole region and lead to immeasurable suffering among families deported.”
Last year, Britain and other European countries were as it emerged that the number of asylum seekers forced to return to Afghanistan had tripled at a time when civilian casualties were at a record high.
Despite Afghanistan being reclassified from “post-conflict” to “active-conflict” by the UN in 2017, asylum acceptance rates for Afghans have declined sharply over the past two years, the NRC report found.
Afghans constitute one of the largest and longest-displaced refugee groups in the world, with 3 million people living in Pakistan and Iran. More than 1 million Afghans have been newly displaced by conflict in the past two years – a threefold increase in less than five years. In 2017, an average of 1,200 Afghans were forced to flee each day, the report said.
Egeland said humanitarian organisations were “not even coming close” to reaching those recently internally displaced and that, following the targeting of Save the Children in Jalalabad by Isis, aid organisations – “hanging on by our fingernails” – were considering how to respond.
“We will now sit down and reflect,” he said. “Can we continue, and how can we continue? Even the International Committee of the Red Cross, who have spent so long and done so well, have reduced their presence in the north after severe attacks.”
The Red Cross after seven staff were killed in attacks last year.
The NRC linked the rising trend in displacement to the withdrawal of foreign troops, escalating violence and the rising number of areas under control of anti-government forces. About 94% of the 2,500 IDPs surveyed said they fled because of violence, conflict or persecution, a 19% rise from 2012.
UN accused of failing Afghan refugees 'forced' to return home from Pakistan
The study said that hundreds of thousands of refugees pressured to return from Iran and Pakistan over the past few years has deepened the challenges for the humanitarian community and the Afghan government, which lacks capacity at a local level to address displacement-affected communities.
The majority of people displaced within Afghanistan in 2017 were from Nangarhar province, in the east, and from the north-west province of Kunduz. About 84% of people from Nangarhar said the area was now under Isis control, while 97% from Kunduz reported that their homes were now under the jurisdiction of the Taliban.
With only 25% of displaced families receiving aid, the NRC found an increase in child labour and child marriage among the displaced.