Afghanistan: Taliban authorities violently evict displaced people from makeshift camps in Kabul

Published 11. Jul 2023
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has received reports from its field teams that a demolition of a settlement in Kabul has left an estimated 2070 families without homes. Several families NRC spoke with reported having to evacuate their homes under traumatic conditions. There are reports from evicted families that a 4-year-old and 15-year-old lost their lives during the evacuation. Bulldozers began demolishing the camp early yesterday morning – by the end of the day nothing remained.

"By expelling extremely vulnerable families, the Kabul authorities have added a new chapter to the long book of suffering of displaced families in Afghanistan," said Neil Turner, NRC’s Country Director in Afghanistan. "We urge the authorities to halt any further evictions and to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law, and in particular the Afghan National Policy on Displaced Persons, which guarantees their rights against forced eviction.” 

As well as claiming lives, the sudden evictions have left the affected families helpless, and unable to salvage their belongings from the wreckage. Families were waiting in the street with no idea where to go. Humanitarian agencies are blocked from the site.  

In 2021 the authorities informed the humanitarian community of their plans to return internally displaced people to areas of origin and close informal settlements across the country. If realised, this policy will impact around two million individuals living in slum-like informal settlements, usually in appalling conditions and often highly dependent on humanitarian assistance to survive.  

“Internally displaced people who are living in these settlements are already on the brink of survival and struggling with the economic crisis – this raises serious concerns that evictions will exacerbate the already extreme humanitarian needs,” said Turner. 

Despite repeated calls for the authorities to engage with humanitarian agencies in Afghanistan to adopt a slower and more sustainable returns process, several thousand of internally displaced people have already been forced from their homes. Unfortunately, few of them have reasonable alternatives and many of those evicted over the last year are still homeless and cut off from the humanitarian assistance that used to be provided in the settlements. 

Note to editors: 

  • Reports of children dying during the eviction were made by evicted families to NRC staff. Residents of nearby settlements have also reported that they have been issued with eviction notices, raising concerns that more settlements will be evicted in the coming days. 
  • 6.6 million people were living in internal displacement in Afghanistan as of December 2022, two-thirds of them because of conflict (IDMC). 
  • The authorities are bound by obligations under international law, including against forced evictions. In this regard, for an eviction to meet international standards and not be a forced eviction, authorities must comply with several principles, including obligations after an eviction has occurred, specifically that people must not be left homeless or living in inadequate housing. (Housing Land and Property Taskforce). 
  • NRC has responded to two other separate incidents of evictions this year, in Kabul in June and in Badghis in December. In the aftermath of both incidents, field teams noted that evicted families struggled to get their basic needs met and often experienced secondary displacement because of the evictions. 

*The initial figure of 280 evicted families was updated to 2070 after consolidation of the figures by the NRC team on the ground. 

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