This country guidance is currently under review. In view of the recent significant changes, notably the Taliban takeover, assessments within this document may no longer be valid. When examining the international protection needs of applicants from Afghanistan, please consider the most up-to-date country of origin information available.
In addition to the general situation in the area of potential IPA, the assessment whether it is reasonable for the applicant to settle in that part of the country should take into account the individual circumstances of the applicant, such as age, gender, ethnicity, religion, health condition, social and educational background, family and social ties, language, etc.
The individual considerations could relate to certain vulnerabilities of the applicant as well as to available coping mechanisms which would have an impact on his or her personal circumstances and determine to what extent it would be reasonable for the applicant to settle in a particular area.
Please note that this is a non-exhaustive list:
■ Age [Key socio-economic indicators 2020, 2.5]: Young age as well as elderly age could significantly limit the applicant’s access to means of subsistence such as through employment, making him or her dependent on other providers. Therefore, this element should be seen in conjunction with the available support by family or a broader support network. In case of children, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration, for example, with regard to access to basic education. Afghanistan’s education system has been described as overwhelmed, particularly due to the increased displacement, with most schools overcrowded and insufficiently resourced. Factors such as residence, gender, disability status, and poverty, affect access to education. There have been limitations in the access to education for IDPs and undocumented refugee returnees. Education facilities are present in the cities.
■ Gender [Key socio-economic indicators 2020, 3.3]: Women and girls in Afghanistan may be subjected to discriminatory restrictions and may need the support of a male family member or chaperone in order to access different services and to exercise certain rights. Therefore, the gender of the applicant should be taken into account when considering reasonableness in conjunction with their family status and available support.
■ State of health (illness or disabilities) [Key socio-economic indicators 2020, 2.6]: Access to healthcare is strained in the three cities, making the health status of the applicant an important consideration when assessing the reasonableness of IPA for those who require medical treatment, also taking into account that their state of health may affect their ability to work and travel. For those with disabilities, access to basic subsistence such as through employment would be further limited.
■ Ethnicity and linguistic background [Security situation 2020, 2.1.1, 2.5.1, 2.13.1]: While parts of Afghanistan are ethnically homogenous, different ethnicities are present in the cities of Kabul, Herat and Mazar-e Sharif. Kabul is a ‘melting pot’ for various ethnicities and linguistic groups, each of them settled in specific places. In Herat province, Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazara, Turkmen, Uzbeks and Aimaqs are the main ethnic groups. Balkh is also an ethnically diverse province. It is inhabited by Pashtun, Uzbek, Hazara, Tajik, Turkmen, Aimaq, Baloch, Arab, and Sunni Hazara (Kawshi) communities. In these cities, the knowledge of Dari or Pashtu is generally considered sufficient and the linguistic background of the applicant would not be a determinative factor.
■ Religion [Society-based targeting, 2; COI query on Hazaras, Shias; COI query on Hindus and Sikhs]: Being part of a religious minority (e.g. Sikhs, Hindu or other religions) should be taken into account for IPA in the three cities, as members of those religious minorities may face discrimination due to religious belief, making it difficult for them to access basic means of subsistence such as through employment.
■ Documentation [Key socio-economic indicators 2020, 3.2]: The most important identification document in Afghanistan is called tazkera. A tazkera is formally required to access a range of public services, such as education, employment, healthcare, and official loans provided by a bank. It is also formally required for the issuance of housing, land and property certificates and title deeds.
■ Local knowledge: Having lived in Afghanistan and/or being familiar with the societal norms is an important factor to take into account when assessing the reasonableness of IPA. Experience of having lived in an urban environment or, especially, in the respective city, could assist the applicant in settling there. Such experience may include, for example, having lived in the city for work or education, or having travelled to the city before.
■ Professional and educational background and financial means: The background of the applicant, their level of education and available financial means can be taken into account when assessing the reasonableness of IPA and in particular the access of the applicant to means of basic subsistence.
■ Support network [Networks]: A support network can be the family network, not restricted to the core family, but also including the extended family, and/or a social network, in particular: friends, employers, classmates, members of the same clan, especially when there is a certain point of contact, etc., taking into account their willingness and ability to assist the person in accessing basic subsistence. Special consideration should be given in the case of individuals who lived abroad for a long period of time and who have no relatives in the three cities, as they may often lack the necessary support network.
It should be noted that these factors would often intersect in the case of the particular applicant, leading to different conclusions on the reasonableness of IPA. In some cases, more than one element of vulnerability would confirm a conclusion that IPA is not reasonable for the particular applicant (e.g. unaccompanied child with no support network), while in other cases, they would balance each other (e.g. IPA may be reasonable for a married couple with available financial means or a support network in one of the cities).