Study Highlights Afghan Displacement and Migration Dynamics

Date Published: 
Friday, May 30, 2014

IOM has recently completed a study on displacement dynamics in Afghanistan, focusing on the movement intentions, needs and vulnerabilities of internally displaced persons (IDPs).

The study, funded by the Federal Republic of Germany and conducted by Samuel Hall Consulting, covers the provinces of Herat and Helmand, which have some of the highest levels of IDP vulnerability as identified by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the 2013 Humanitarian Needs Overview Report.

Drawing on both qualitative and quantitative data, the study builds a profile of IDP communities that will help IOM and its partners to better understand migration dynamics in the country, and develop programmes that address the specific needs of IDPs. According to estimates from UNHCR, there are nearly 620,000 IDPs across Afghanistan, 20 per cent of whom were displaced within the last year.

“Migration is a precursor of, and a way to cope with, economic and social phenomena,” said IOM Afghanistan Chief of Mission Richard Danziger. “The goal of this study was to identify the various drivers of migration, highlighting push and pull factors that need to be addressed to ensure that mobility does not contribute to further instability.”

Seven hundred and twenty IDP households were surveyed for the study, along with focus group discussions, interviews with community leaders and key informant interviews with government agencies and UN/NGO representatives.

Data from the study indicates that conflict and natural disaster are the main factors driving displacement. Fifty-five per cent of IDPs indicated conflict and insecurity as their reason for displacement, 32 per cent indicated both natural disasters and conflict and 12.5 per cent cited natural disasters alone.

While natural disaster-affected IDPs were thought to return to their place of origin, the data suggests a preference for reintegration in their current place of displacement. The study reveals a clear urbanization trend, with IDP inflows to cities adding pressure on the absorption capacities of communities.

With nearly half of the IDPs surveyed citing natural disasters as their cause for displacement, the study highlights a need for disaster risk reduction (DRR) interventions to address gaps in preparedness. Furthermore, better coordination mechanisms among relevant authorities and community members are needed, both in places of IDP origin and destination.

Unmet shelter needs are also cited in the study as a main need and vulnerability for IDPs. Over half of the IDPs surveyed were living in temporary shelters of varying standards.

IOM has been working in close coordination with the Afghan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA) to support communities affected by or at risk of natural disasters through the IOM Humanitarian Assistance Programme (HAP). HAP field teams have assisted thousands of disaster-affected families throughout Afghanistan since 2008.

The full version of the study as well as a summary can be downloaded at the following links:

Full Version:


For more information please contact Richard Danziger, IOM Afghanistan, Email: