Taliban ‘violently evicts’ displaced people from camps in Kabul

Kabul city. File photo

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said on Tuesday it has received reports from its field teams that numerous families were evicted under traumatic conditions by the Taliban from a camp in Kabul.

In a statement issued by the NRC, the organization stated that a demolition of a settlement in Kabul has left an estimated 280 families without homes. The organization also said they had received reports from evicted families that a 4-year-old and a 15-year-old lost their lives during the evacuation.

Bulldozers began demolishing the camp early Monday morning and by the end of the day nothing remained.

“By expelling extremely vulnerable families, the Kabul (Taliban) 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, the organization said in the statement adding that families were waiting in the street with no idea where to go. “Humanitarian agencies are blocked from the site,” the statement read.

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 realized, 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, the NRC said.

“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.

The NRC stated that residents of nearby settlements have also reported that they have been issued with eviction notices, raising concerns that more settlements will be demolished in the coming days.

According to data from humanitarian agencies, 6.6 million people were living in internal displacement in Afghanistan as of December 2022.