The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has received distressing reports from its field teams detailing the violent eviction of displaced families from a settlement in Kabul. Approximately 280 families have been left homeless as a result of this demolition. Shockingly, during the traumatic evacuation process, two young lives, a 4-year-old and a 15-year-old, were tragically lost. Bulldozers were deployed early yesterday morning, reducing the camp to rubble by day's end.
Neil Turner, NRC's Country Director in Afghanistan, expressed grave concern about the authorities' actions, stating, "By forcibly expelling extremely vulnerable families, the Kabul authorities have added yet another tragic chapter to the ongoing suffering of displaced families in Afghanistan. We implore the authorities to immediately cease any further evictions and honor their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law, including the Afghan National Policy on Displaced Persons, which guarantees protection against forced eviction."
The sudden evictions not only resulted in loss of life but also left the affected families utterly helpless, unable to salvage any of their belongings from the wreckage. Displaced families found themselves stranded on the streets, uncertain of where to seek shelter. Humanitarian agencies have been barred from accessing the site, exacerbating the dire situation.
Earlier in 2021, the authorities had informed the humanitarian community of their plans to repatriate internally displaced people to their areas of origin and shut down informal settlements across the country. If implemented, this policy will affect approximately two million individuals residing in slum-like informal settlements, characterized by deplorable conditions and heavy reliance on humanitarian assistance for survival.
Neil Turner further highlighted the gravity of the situation, stating, "Internally displaced people residing in these settlements are already teetering on the edge of survival, grappling with the economic crisis. These forced evictions raise serious concerns about exacerbating the already extreme humanitarian needs in the country."
Despite repeated appeals for the authorities to engage with humanitarian agencies in Afghanistan and adopt a more measured and sustainable approach to returns, several thousand internally displaced people have already been forcibly removed from their homes. Unfortunately, viable alternatives are scarce, leaving many of the evicted individuals homeless and cut off from the vital humanitarian aid that was previously available in the settlements.
The NRC and other humanitarian organizations continue to advocate for the rights and well-being of internally displaced persons in Afghanistan. They urge the authorities to halt all further evictions and work collaboratively with humanitarian agencies to devise solutions that prioritize the safety and dignity of displaced individuals. The international community must also stand in solidarity with the affected families, providing the necessary support and resources to address the escalating humanitarian crisis in the country.
As the situation unfolds, the world watches with concern, hoping for a swift resolution that ensures the rights and protection of the most vulnerable populations in Afghanistan.