Read caption Recent NRC research reveals that only 21 per cent of internally displaced women in Afghanistan have national identity cards. Without these, they cannot own land, they have restricted movement, and face barriers to accessing a range of essential services. Photo: Jim Huylebroek/NRC

Providing legal identity to displaced Afghans

Published 01. Aug 2017
Thousands of people displaced by conflict in Afghanistan do not have access to essential services, formal justice, education or land because they lack a national identity card. Now, a new project might improve their situation radically.

A new pilot project in Herat Province in western Afghanistan was launched on 31 July by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in cooperation with the Government of Afghanistan. Through the use of mobile teams and a new registration process, the project aims to reach almost 9,000 people displaced in Herat.

“We have managed to develop a solution helping displaced Afghans obtain Tazkera that does not require them to make the dangerous or costly journey to their place of origin,” said William Carter, Head of Programme for NRC Afghanistan.

Read caption At the launch of NRC’s pilot project today 10 displaced children received national identity cards. Without this, they cannot access formal education. Photo: Jim Huylebroek/NRC

Currently, the way Afghan law is implemented requires applications for Tazkera to be applied for in the place of origin, or with central authorities in Kabul. For internally displaced people it is difficult to obtain the identity card– they have had to flee their homes because of conflict and are reluctant to return to ongoing conflict. In addition, the cost of traveling back to their homes is prohibitive for many

“Legal identity is required for so many basic services, and also to owning land in Afghanistan. This new registration process will have a profoundly positive impact on the lives of Afghan families who fled their homes due to conflict,” said Carter.

NRC has offered legal aid to people who are displaced in Afghanistan since 2003. The work is funded by a number of international donors, including: US BPRM, UN Common Humanitarian Fund, DANIDA, Dutch MFA, EU, UK DFID, NMFA, and NORAD.

  • The Tazkera is the primary Afghan personal identification document and is necessary to access government services.  NRC and Samuel Hall´s “Access to tazkera and other civil documentation" study shows that only 21per cent of internally displaced women surveyed hold a Tazkera, while 87 per cent of internally displaced men in the same study have this document.
  • A Tazkera is a mandatory precondition for many private and public jobs.  The lack of documentation reduces access to credit, rendering it impossible to get loans from banks, and limits people’s abilities to buy or rent land and property.
  • This pilot initiative has been funded by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA).  The project has significant potential to be rolled out in many other areas of Afghanistan, including for the benefit of displaced people who have returned to their homes.
  • Through ten offices, NRC directly assisted 300,000 displaced people in Afghanistan with legal aid, shelter support and education in 2016. Over 2017, NRC will likely have assisted 400,000 people.