Internally Displaced, Returnees from Abroad Soar to Over 2.4 Million in Nine Afghan Provinces: IOM Survey

Date Published: 
Friday, July 7, 2017

One in six people is either a returnee or an internally displaced person (IDP) in the nine surveyed Afghan provinces
(Baghlan, Balkh, Kabul, Kunar, Kunduz, Laghman, Nangarhar, Paktia, and Takhar), according to the 2nd round of IOM’s Afghan Displacement Tracking Matrix  (DTM) published today (7/7.)


In the nine provinces, which are believed to have the highest levels of displacement and return in the country, a total of 2,416,570 individuals either returned from abroad or were internally displaced during the five years between 2012 and June 2017. This represents roughly 17 percent of the total base population in these nine provinces of 11,851,822.


The DTM tracks mobility, determines numbers and locations of forcibly displaced people and provides basic demographic information. It aims to explain the reasons behind their displacement and their migration history, as well as their vulnerabilities and priority needs.

The main objective of the DTM in Afghanistan is to supply the Government of Afghanistan and humanitarian partners with comprehensive data, enabling them to provide timely, targeted, and cost-effective assistance to conflict and displacement affected populations.


According to the survey, the returnees from abroad included 1,200,721 people from Pakistan and over 222,000 from Iran. Another 41,803 people returned from Europe, including Turkey. Many returned to extreme poverty and some 73,850 returnees are now living in tents or open air holes dug into the ground and covered by tarpaulins. Many others rent or live in semi-ruined, abandoned houses. With 518,066 individuals returning between 2012 & 2017, Nangarhar has the highest number of returnees.


The survey also identified a total of 945,182 IDPs in the nine provinces assessed. Nearly all of them - 97.38 percent - had been displaced by conflict. Another 1,141,334 people had returned to their homes.  Some 658,743 individuals were forced to leave their settlements and put to flight to another district or province.


The provinces also experienced outward migration during the period. Some 454,054 individuals or four percent of the population left Afghanistan and have not returned. Of these, 105,218 or 23 percent migrated to Europe, including Turkey. Another 82,984 moved to Pakistan and 52,497 to Iran.


“Displacement management is a serious challenge for countries that have a high number of displaced persons. DTM not only allows the Government of Afghanistan and humanitarian actors to easily identify areas of high return and migration movements on a provincial level, but is also able to deliver specific information on protection risks  on the community level.”

Laurence Hart, Chief of Mission IOM Afghanistan


The DTM survey follows a first round of data collection conducted January - March 2017 in the three eastern provinces of Nanagarhar, Laghman, and Kunar. The DTM was launched in response to dramatic rises in returns from neighboring countries, as well as increasing internal displacement. Between January 2016 and June 2017 over 915,000 undocumented Afghans returned to Afghanistan from Iran and Pakistan, and over 807,400 were internally displaced by conflict.


For further information please contact Eva Schwoerer (+93 72 922 9129, or Nasir Haidarzai (+93 79 410 0542, at IOM Afghanistan.