IOM and Partners Call Attention to Rights and Protection Needs of Migrants on International Migrants Day

Date Published: 
Thursday, December 18, 2014

A statement is read on behalf of the First Lady at the International Migrants Day event

In recognition of International Migrants Day, 18 December 2014, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Afghanistan Center at Kabul University (ACKU), Afghanistan Migrants Advice and Support Organization (AMASO) and The Liaison Office (TLO) held an event in Kabul on Tuesday to raise awareness of the rights and protection needs of Afghan migrants.

Representatives from the Government of Afghanistan, civil society, the international community, the United Nations and local and international NGOs took part in the event, which featured a discussion panel on displacement and return issues as well as an art exhibition and music performance related to migration.

In Afghanistan migrants, returnees, deportees, reugees, victims of trafficking and internally displaced persons face staggering challenges. By calling attention to these issues, the event sought to expand the migration-related discourse in Afghanistan and bring attention to the human costs of migration.

Afghanistan still has one of the world’s largest populations living in protracted displacement.  Millions of Afghans still live as refugees in neighboring Iran and Pakistan, and in the country, ongoing conflict and natural disasters has meant that more than 800,000 of the population are internally displaced.

“The problem of internal displacement is one of Afghanistan’s most pressing challenges,” said Musa Mahmoodi, Executive Director of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, speaking at the event. “Most of the displaced population is living in hardship conditions, lacking shelter, food security and work opportunities, and excluded from education.”

Protection concerns for migrants also remain a pressing issue. The number of migrants dying on dangerous journeys in the hope of finding better lives for themselves and their families is rising. Just last month, 27 Afghan migrants drowned off the Turkish coast while attempting to reach Europe.

One presentation of a forthcoming NRC and TLO report highlighted the particularly dire protection needs of displaced women and girls in urban settlements.  Contrary to popular beliefs their journey to the city does not open up better access to services and social opportunities but leads to seclusion, crippling poverty, increased violence against women and mental health issues. International and local assistance has not yet provided adequate support to mitigate this quite desperate situation.

“We miss the outside world so much, and feel like prisoners here. Prison is better; at least you are fed well,” said a 24-year-old IDP woman, quoted in the report.

International Migrants Day was declared by the UN in 2000, in recognition of the adoption of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families on 18 December 1990.

For further information, please contact Matt Graydon at IOM Afghanistan (mgraydon@iom.int).