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Analysis of Migration Patterns in Afghanistan

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Published: Tue, 27 Feb 2018

Migration in Afghanistan:

1. Introduction

Afghanistan is home to the largest refugee crises experienced since the inception of the UNHCR. Decades of war have led millions to flee their homes and seek refuge in the neighboring countries of Pakistan and Iran, and for those who were able, further abroad. The number of refugees spiked in 1990 at 6.2 million. They began to decrease in 1992 with the fall of the government, but began to increase again in 1996 with the rise of the Taliban. In 2002, with the fall of the Taliban and the US-led invasion, record numbers of Afghan refugees returned to Afghanistan. An international reconstruction and development initiative began to aid Afghans in rebuilding their country from decades of war.

Reports indicate that change is occurring in Afghanistan, but the progress is slow. The Taliban have regained strength in the second half of this decade and insurgency and instability are rising. Afghanistan continues to be challenged by underdevelopment, lack of infrastructure, few employment opportunities, and widespread poverty. The slow pace of change has led Afghans to continue migrating in order to meet the needs of their families.

Today refugee movements no longer characterize the primary source of Afghan migration. Migration in search of livelihoods is the primary reasons for migration and occurs through rural-urban migration in Afghanistan or circular migration patterns as Afghans cross into Pakistan and/or Iran. Afghans utilize their social networks to find low-skilled work in the cities or neighboring countries. The highly skilled in Afghanistan often seek to migrate to Western countries, as the opportunities in Afghanistan are limited.

Afghans transnational movements have led to the development of the Afghan Diaspora, which has been essential in providing remittances to families in Afghanistan to meet their daily needs. The Afghan Diaspora has been involved in the reconstruction effort and is a key contributor to development in Afghanistan. The continued engagement of the Diaspora is important to the building of Afghanistan’s future.

This paper seeks to provide an overview of migration and development in Afghanistan. It will begin with a country profile on Afghanistan (Chapter 2), followed by a review of historical migration patterns in Afghanistan (Chapter 3) and a synthesis of current migration patterns in Afghanistan (Chapter 4). The paper will then move to discuss migration and development in Afghanistan (Chapter 5), the Afghan Diaspora (Chapter 6), policies regarding migration in Afghanistan (Chapter 7), and the migration relationship between the Netherlands and Afghanistan (Chapter 8). The paper will conclude with an examination of future migration prospects for Afghanistan (Chapter 9) and a conclusion (Chapter 10).

2. General Country Profile

Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world and has been inundated by decades of war, civil strife and poverty. Today, Afghanistan is central in media attention due to the US led invasion post 9/11, however the country has been in turmoil for much longer. This section will provide a brief overview of the recent history of Afghanistan, the current economic situation, the current political situation, a cultural overview, and the current status of women in the country.

Historical Overview

The modern history of Afghanistan can be divided into four essential periods: pre 1978, 1978-1992, 1992-2001, and post 2001.

Pre 1978

Afghanistan was founded in 1774 by Ahmad Shah Durrani who unified the Pashtun tribes in the region and created the state (CIA, 2009). The country was ruled by a monarchy and acted as a buffer between the British and Russian empires until it received independence from conjectural British control in 1919 (CIA, 2009). The last King, Zahir Shah, reigned from 1933 to 1973, when he was overthrown by a coup d’etat led by his cousin and ex-premier President Mohammed Daoud (Jazayery, 2002). Opposition to Daoud’s Government lead to a coup in 1978 by the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) (Jazayery, 2002).

1978-1992 – Soviet Invasion

The PDPA was a Marxist regime and from 1989 was supported by the Soviet Union. This was the first major flow of refugees from Afghanistan. The occupation by the Soviets was viewed in the west as an escalation of the Cold War. The West began to fund millions of dollars, which became billions of dollars, to the resistance forces known as the Mujahideen (Jazayery, 2002). The resistance forces operated primarily from Pakistan. In 1986 when Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union, the Soviets began the process of extraditing themselves from Afghanistan and by 1989 the Soviets had left Afghanistan.

1992-2001 – Taliban Rule

In 1992 the Mujahideen forces overthrew Najibullah’s Government. A failure of consensus of the new Government led to a civil war from 1992-1996 (Jazayery, 2002). Afghanistan became divided into tribal fiefdoms controlled by armed commanders and warlords (Poppelwell, 2007). The country was in a state of anarchy and Afghans lived in a state of constant fear of physical and sexual assault (Poppelwell, 2007).

During this time, the Taliban emerged in 1994, claiming that Afghanistan should be ruled by Shari’a (Islamic law) (Jazayery, 2002). The Taliban received support and funding from Saudi Arabia and Arab individuals in the quest to establish a pure Islamic model state (Poppelwell, 2007). The Taliban swept through Afghanistan encountering no resistance by the Mujahideen and were welcomed in many areas as they established relative security in the areas they controlled (Jazayery, 2002). By 1998, The Taliban had captured the majority of the country and established the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” (Jazayery, 2002). A Northern Alliance that arose in opposition to the Taliban maintained a Government of the “Islamic State of Afghanistan” with Burhanuddin Rabbini as president (Jazayery, 2002). The Taliban Government was only recognized by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, while the Government of Rabbini maintained an officially represented seat at the UN (Jazayery, 2002).

After the bombings of the US Embassy’s in Kenya and Tanzania the Taliban were asked to stop harboring Osama bin Laden (Poppelwell, 2007). At their refusal, the UN imposed sanctions against the Taliban and Afghanistan in 1999 (Poppelwell, 2007). By this time the Taliban were known for disregarding international law and human rights (Poppelwell, 2007). During this time, killing, pillaging, raping, and ethnic cleansing of individuals occurred across Afghanistan by the Taliban regime (Jazayery, 2002).

Post 2001

The events of 9/11 2001 led the US to lead Coalition Forces to invade Afghanistan on 7 October 2007. Within months the military forces had taken control of Afghanistan and declared the fall of the Taliban. The International Security and Assistance Forces (ISAF) in Afghanistan began with 5,000 troops. In 2003, NATO took over the ISAF, which now, due to increased security concerns, is comprised of approximately 50,000 troops coming from all 28 NATO members (NATO, 2009).

In December 2001 a UN led interim administration was established under the Bonn Agreement. The Bonn Agreement established a new constitution and the first democratic elections in 2004 (Poppelwell, 2007). Hamid-Karzai, became the leader of a broad based thirty-member ethnic council that aimed to be multi-ethnic and representative of Afghan society (Poppelwell, 2007). The new administration faced many challenges and in 2005 the Taliban began to regain strength in Afghanistan.

The increased security challenges led to the London Conference in January 2006 to address the end of the Bonn agreement and the current challenges in Afghanistan. The result of the London Conference was the Afghanistan Compact, which identified a five-year plan for Afghanistan. The Afghanistan Compact is based on three key pillars: “security, governance, the rule of law and human rights; economic and social development; and the cross-cutting issue of counter-narcotics” (Poppelwell, 2007, p. 8). Western Governments have taken on specific areas as a country lead for areas in which they will focus.

The reconstruction process in Afghanistan has been extensive. A total of $14,775,000,000 US dollars has been contributed to the reconstruction process since 2001 (Livingston, Messera, and Shapiro, 2009). Despite the development efforts, insecurity has increased since 2005 with the Taliban regaining strength. The overall situation in Afghanistan continues to be characterized by conflict and poverty.

Demographics

A census has not been conducted in Afghanistan since prior to the Soviet invasion in 1978. Thus, all demographic information is estimates. In 2009, the CIA World Factbook estimated the population of Afghanistan to be 28.3 million. This was a significant decrease from the previous estimate of 33.6 million. An Afghanistan census is scheduled for 2010. The population growth rate in Afghanistan was estimated by the United Nations to be 3.9 percent 2005-2010 (UN Data, 2009).
Economic and Poverty Overview

Economic progress in Afghanistan is occurring through the reconstruction effort, however, Afghanistan continues to be one of the least developed and poorest countries in the world. Table 1 provides an overview of key economic and poverty indicators for Afghanistan in 2007. Real GDP growth for 2008-09 decelerated to 2.3 percent from 16.2 percent in 2007-08 (World Bank, 2009). This is the lowest GDP growth has been in the post-Taliban period and was due to poor agricultural production (World Bank, 2009). In 2009, however, growth is expected to increase due to a good agricultural harvest (World Bank, 2009).

Table 1: Key Indicators

GDP Per Capita (PPP US $)

1,054

Life Expectancy

43.6

Adult Literacy Rate (% aged 15 and above)

28.0

Combined Gross Enrolment Ration in Education

50.1

Human Poverty Index Rank

135.0

Probability at birth of not surviving to age 40 (% of cohort)

40.7

Population not using an improved water Source (%)

78.0

Children underweight for age (% under age 5)

39.0

Overseas Development Assistance per Capita (US$)

146.0

Source: UNDP, 2009

The latest poverty assessment in Afghanistan was conducted in 2005 through the National Risk and Vulnerability Assessment (NRVA). The findings indicate that the poverty rate was 42 percent, corresponding to 12 million people living below the poverty line (Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, 2009, p. 14). In addition, 20 percent of the population was slightly above the poverty line, suggesting that a small economic shock could place them below the poverty line (Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, 2009, p. 14). It is evident that widespread poverty continues to be a challenge in Afghanistan.

Political Situation

In August 2009, Afghanistan held it second democratic elections (World Bank, 2009). The incumbent President Hamid Karzai, was re-elected with 50 percent of the necessary votes, however, since the election there have been over 2,000 fraud allegations lodged with the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC). The Independent Election Commission announced in October 2009 that its final results indicated less than 50 percent of the votes for Karzai. Thus, a run-off election was scheduled for November between Karzai and the lead opponent. Before the election, however, the opponent withdrew from the race leaving Karzai as President (World Bank, 2009).

The United Nations Mission to Afghanistan has continued to coordinate international assistance and support the Afghan government in developing good governance. The key aspects of the UN Mission political mandate include: “preventing and resolving conflicts; building confidence and promoting national reconciliation; monitoring and advising on the political and human rights situation; investigating and making recommendations relating to human rights violations; maintaining a dialogue with Afghan leaders, political parties, civil society groups, institutions, and representatives of central, regional and provincial authorities; recommending corrective actions; and undertaking good offices when necessary to further the peace process” (UNAMA, 2009).

The political situation in Afghanistan continues to be complex. In 2009, Transparency International rated Afghanistan 1.3 on the Global Corruption Perceptions Index (Transparency International, 2009). This was the second lowest ranking with only Somalia receiving a lower score. This suggests a high lack of trust in the Government of Afghanistan.

Culture/ Ethnic Groups

Afghanistan is a traditional and conservative society with large ethnic divisions. Table 2 shows the percentage of the population that belongs to the different ethnic groups.

Table 2: Ethnic Groups in Afghanistan

1970’s

2006

Pashtun

39.4

40.9

Tajik

33.7

37.1

Uzbeck

8

9.2

Hazara

8

9.2

Turkmen

3.3

1.7

Aimak

4.1

0.1

Baloch

1.6

0.5

Other

1.9

1.4

Source: The Asia Foundation, 2006; Encycopedia Iranica, 2009

The Pashtun’s have generally been the majority in Afghanistan. They occupy land in the South and the East and are divided amoung tribal lines. The Tajik’s are primarily Sunni Muslims who are Persian and occupy the Northeast and West of Afghanistan. The Tajiks are often well educated and landowners. The Uzbecks are descendents from the Turks and are primarily involved in agriculture. The Hazara’s are primarily Shi’ite Muslims who occupy the infertile highlands in central Afghanistan. The Hazara’s are subsistence farms that have used migration routes for survival for centuries (Robinson and Lipson, 2002).

The vast majority of the population in Afghanistan is Sunni Muslim (87.9 percent). Shi’ia Muslims account for 10.4 percent of the population and the remaining ethnic groups are negligible in numbers. Shi’ia Muslims are thus a minority and have faced persecution in Afghanistan.

Status of Women

Afghanistan’s GDI (Gender Development Index) value is 0.310, which is 88.1 percent of its Human Development Index (HDI) (UNDP, 2009). The HDI does not account for gender inequality, and the GDI adds this component to the HDI. Afghanistan ranks 155 out of 155 countries measured in the world for its GDI. Indicators, such as literacy, illustrate this; 43.1 percent of adult males are literate, compared to 12.6 percent of adult females (UNDP, 2009).

The culture of Afghanistan is a based on traditional gender roles. Traditionally, women are seen as embodying the honour of the family (World Bank, 2005). As such, women are given as brides to create peace, or to honour a relationship. The role of a wife is to maintain the household and support the husband, which includes domestic and sexual services. In general, a wife meets the husbands needs and if the wife does not she has dishonoured her family and community (World Bank, 2005).

The legal rights of women in Afghanistan have changed with the political structure. Prior to Taliban rule, the Constitution of Afghanistan guaranteed women equal rights under the law, although local tribes may have had different customs. Under Taliban rule women’s rights were severely hindered as they were not permitted to leave their homes unless accompanied by a close male relative, receive education, and had restricted access the health care and employment. Women were frequently raped and abused during this time. With the fall of the Taliban the situation has improved for women, however there are great differences between the rural and urban situation (World Bank, 2005).

The Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MOWA) was established in the Bonn Agreement to promote the advancement of women in Afghanistan. MOWA works in an advocacy role to ensure that policies are implemented for both men and women. In addition, MOWA works with NGOs to ensure programs for women are implemented.

Women’s rights remain to be a primary concern in Afghanistan. At present, approximately 60 percent of women are married before the age of 16 (IRIN, 2005). At 44, women in Afghanistan have one of the lowest life expectancies in the world (UNDP, 2009). Women who are widowed are ostracized in rural communities, but are often able to make a living in the cities to support themselves and their families. However, female-headed households tend to be primarily represented in the poorest quintiles of Afghan society (World Bank, 2005). The situation for women in the urban centres such as Kabul is becoming more liberal. Education rates of girls in the urban centres are high than rural areas and these indicators suggest changes are occurring for women in urban areas. Women’s rights are high on the international policy agenda for Afghanistan and a key goal of development aid.

3. Historic Overview of Migration

Migration in Afghanistan has had a long history and has significantly shaped the countries social and cultural landscape (Monsutti, 2007). Historically, Afghanistan was a country of trade between the east and the west and a key location on the Silk Road trade route. Thus, migration is a part of the historical identity of the country. The following chapter presents an overview of the complex migration patterns, with a historical perspective.

Migration Patterns from Afghanistan to Pakistan and Iran Prior to 1978

Migration between Afghanistan and Pakistan and Iran has a long history. The migration relationships are rooted in the ethnic ties that span the borders between the countries. For instance, Pashtuns make up 20 percent of the population in Pakistan and 30 percent in Afghanistan. The Pashtuns are separated by the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, which is referred to as the Durand Line. The Durand Line was established during British colonialism to demarcate British India from Afghanistan, and has been acknowledged to be an arbitrary divide of Pashtun land (Monsutti, 2005). Thus, cross-border migration of the Pashtuns between Afghanistan and Pakistan has been a way of life. Similarly, the Hazara’s of Afghanistan are Shiite’s Muslims, which is the majority religion in Iran (Monsutti, 2005). Hazara’s regularly engaged in migration to and from Iran via religious ties. These ethnic and cultural ties led to cross-border migration for decades prior to the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan.

The poor economic position of Afghanistan prior to 1978 led to further economic migration to the better off states of Pakistan and Iran. Stigter states, “The economic differences between Afghanistan and Pakistan and Iran have long led Afghans to migrate to these countries to find employment and, for Iran, enjoy the benefits of a higher income” (2006, p. 117). In the 1960s and 1970s industrialization in Afghanistan was minimal and there were limited opportunities for the newly educated and growing rural population (Stigter, 2006). A widespread drought in the 1970s led to large-scale crop failure and further migration of many Afghans from the north and north-western Afghanistan into Iran (Monsutti, 2006). In addition, the oil boom of 1973 caused further increasing numbers of Afghans to cross into Iran and other Middle Eastern countries to capitalize on the labour opportunities (Stigter, 2006). Studies have also confirmed that prior to the war migrants from Northern Afghanistan travelled to Pakistan during the winter, illustrating that seasonal migration occurred between the two countries (Stigter, 2006 from CSSR, 2005).

These pre-established migration movements reveal that social networks were established between Afghanistan and Pakistan and Iran prior to the Soviet Invasion and proceeding wars. Monsutti states that “Channels of pre-established transnational networks exist between Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran- the movement of individuals to seek work, to escape drought or to flee war has been a common experience in Afghanistan” (Monsutti, 2006, p. 6-7). Thus, it can be deduced that migration to Pakistan and Iran was a natural option for many Afghans.

International Migration Post 1978

International migration movements from Afghanistan from 1978 have primarily been comprised of refugee flows. The vast majority of refugees fled to Pakistan and Iran in the largest refugee crises of the late 20th Century. 1 shows the number of Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Iran from 1979-2001.

1 illustrates that refugee outflows from Afghanistan began in 1979 with the Soviet Invasion. The outflows continued to increase during the Soviet occupation when there was civil war between the US funded Mujahideen and the Soviet backed Najibullah. Flows during this time spanned social classes and ethnic groups as the initial reason for migration was primarily protection led. However, reasons of a lack of economic opportunities, devastation of infrastructure and trade networks, limited access to social services such as healthcare and education, and political and social reasons also contributed to migration flows (Stigter, 2006). Migration was thus not only refugee protection, but also the need to make a livelihood (Stigter, 2006).

The peak of the refugee flows occurred in 1990 with 6.2 million Afghan refugees. This was after the Soviet withdrawal and when the Najibullah remained in power (Jazayery, 2002, p. 240). In the 1990s drought contributed to continuing refugee flows from Afghanistan (Stigter, 2006). The fall of the Najibullah in 1992 led to large-scale repatriation. However, with the Taliban gaining power in 1996, the number of refugees began to increase again to approximately 3.8 million refugees in 2001.

During the initial refugee outflows in 1979 both Pakistan and Iran warmly welcomed the refugees under a banner Muslim solidarity (Monsutti, 2006). Iran is a signatory and Pakistan is not a signatory to the 1951 Convention of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, however both countries welcomed the refugees. In Iran the refugees were given identification cards, allowed access to work, health care, food, free primary and secondary education, and were free to settle where they chose (Monsutti, 2006). Pakistan created an agreement with the United Nations to provide services to the Afghan refugees and received financial support from the international community (Monsutti, 2006).

The era of welcoming Afghan refugees began to change in 1989. In Pakistan refugees were still welcomed from 1989-2001, but were not provided with the same level of services and facilitation (Monsutti, 2006). In Iran support also decreased and by the 1990s refugees no longer received identity cards and assistance (Monsutti, 2006). The position of the host countries became increasingly unfriendly post 2001, which will be discussed in the next chapter of this paper.

Return Migration

The Mujahideen took over the government in 1992 and as a result nearly 2 million refugees returned to Afghanistan. By 1997 an estimated 4 million refugees had returned from Pakistan and Iran (Stigter, 2006). Simultaneously, however, conflicts between rival Mujahideen groups dissuaded many refugees from returning, and created new refugees and IDPs.

Internal Migration

The primary source of internal migration in Afghanistan was Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

Internally Displaced Persons

Internal displacement flows have followed a similar trajectory as refugee flows. The exact number of IDPs is not known and 3 shows estimated number of IDPs in Afghanistan from 1985-2001. Generally those who are internally displaced do not have the means to cross an international border. IDPs in Afghanistan had access to very few services during this period. The UNHCR’s capacity in Afghanistan began to increase after 1992 as is illustrated in 3 by the red line. From 1995 the two lines start to converge as the number of IDPs assisted by UNHCR increases and the total number of IDPs decreases.

By 2001 the number of IDPs has significantly increased to 1.2 million. The number of IDPs in Afghanistan will be further examined in the next chapter.

4. Current Migration Patterns- 2001- Present

Current migration patterns in Afghanistan are complex and multifaceted. Since 2001 Afghanistan has witnessed the largest movement of refugee return in UNHCR’s history (Monsutti, 2008). These flows have been a mixture of voluntary and forced return of refugees who had been outside of Afghanistan for varying periods. The majority of returnees are from Pakistan. Afghan refugees have maintained ties with Pakistan and now cross-border labour migration between Afghanistan and Pakistan is increasing. In addition to international flows, the numbers of IDPs have decreased in Afghanistan since 2001 as IDPs return to their regions of origin. Finally, within this picture there are large flows of rural-urban migration as returnees and non-returnees find limited opportunities in rural areas and move to the cities in search of work. All of these flows are occurring simultaneously and present a complex picture of current migration patterns and flows. Each of these areas will be addressed in the following section.

Internal Migration

Internal migration flows in Afghanistan have been increasing in the post-Taliban period. As refugees and migrants return to Afghanistan they do not necessarily end their migration cycle. Returnees may continue to migrate internally in search of livelihoods and opportunities. The internal migration flows in Afghanistan are comprised of IDPs, rural to urban migration, and trafficking.

Internally Displaced Persons

Internal displacement in Afghanistan has been understudied and information is limited to availability from the UNHCR. In 2004, the UNHCR conducted a data profiling of IDPs in UNHCR assisted camps and in 2008 the UNHCR created a national profile of IDPs in Afghanistan. Statistics regarding IDPs are estimates[1].

Table 3 shows the number of IDPs and IDP returnees from 2001 to 2008. At the fall of the Taliban in 2001 there were approximately 1.2 million IDPs in Afghanistan, of which many returned spontaneously in 2002 (UNHCR, 2008, p. 6). In 2008, IDP returns were negligible due to continued insecurity, inter-tribal and personal conflict, landlessness and drought, and lack of job opportunities and basic services in rural areas (UNHCR, 2008).

Table 3: IDPs Total and Returns: 2001-2008

IDPs

IDP Returnees

Year

Total

Assisted

Total

Assisted

2001

1,200,000

2002

665,200

753,300

2003

184,300

2004

159,500

27,400

2005

143,000

17,000

8,600

2006

129,300

129,300

10,400

10,400

2007

153,700

153,700

8,000

8,000

2008

230,700

230,700

6,500

4,000

Total

2,865,700

513,700

822,600

31,000

Source: UNHCR Global Reports, 2001-2008

Of the current IDPs (235,000) the UNHCR identifies 132,000 as a protracted caseload (2008). Table 4 shows the reasons for displacement of the current IDP population. These numbers do not include those who are invisible IDPs or urban unidentified IDPs. UNHCR estimates that the actual number of IDPs in Afghanistan is substantially larger than the numbers suggest (2008, p. 18).

Table 4: Reason for Displacement of Current IDPs (2008)

Reason for Displacement

No. of Families

No. of Individuals

Protracted

31,501

166,153

New Drought affected

1,083

6,598

New Conflict Affected

1,749

9,901

Returnees in Displacement

8,737

52,422

Battle-affected

127

759

Total

43,197

235,833

Source: UNHCR, 2008

Since 2007 the return of IDPs has continued to decrease due to increased instability in the country, drought, landlessness, and the spread of conflict and insurgency areas (IDMC, 2008). Disputes are arising between IDPs and locals as in Afghan culture if you are not born in the region you do not belong there (IDMC, 2008). Options for IDPs appear to be limited as they are not welcomed in the regions where they are seeking protection.

Rural to Urban Migration

Urbanization is rapidly occurring in Afghanistan as returnees settle in the cities and people migrate from rural communities to urban centres. Approximately 30 percent of returnees settle in Kabul (Stigter, 2006). The population of Kabul in 2001 was roughly 500,000 and it had grown to over 3 million by 2007 (IRIN, 2007). The urban centres do not have the infrastructure or resources to meet the needs of the large inflows of migrants, however, research suggest that the difficult situations in the cities are better than rural areas.

In 2005 the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit conducted a study on rural to urban migration (Opel, 2005). A total of 500 migrants were interviewed in the cities of Kabul, Herat, and Jalalabad. The majority of migrants were male (89 percent) and the average age of migrants was 31 years (p. 4). Males tend to migrate to support their families, and females migrate when they have lost their husbands or have been ostracized by their community and have no means of supporting themselves in rural areas. The majority did not own productive assets in their village (71.2 percent), although 43 percent owned a house in their village (p. 8). The primary reasons for migration were the lack or work in the village and better opportunities in town (42%), followed by lack of work in the village (38.2%) and insecurity (16.3%) (p. 11). The majority of migrants made the journey on their own (70.7%) and paid for the journey from their savings (p.14). Migration to urban areas is expensive and the poorest of the poor cannot afford the journey.

Once in the cities, the majority were employed in low skilled day labour work and on average respondents reported working 16 out of the past 30 days (p. 20). Social networks were essential in people finding work as 89 percent of skilled workers and 60 percent of unskilled workers reported receiving assistance from a relative, friend or neighbour (p. 20). Incomes in the cities were low, but were higher than what individuals could earn in the rural areas. The majority of urban migrants remitted money to their family in rural areas, which they carried with them when they returned or sent through family or friends. None of the urban migrants use the Hawala (see Chapter 6) system, which was reported to be too expensive for them. The majority of migrants reported planning to settle in the city (55%) (p. 26). Overall, the majority did improve their economic situation through migration (61.9% for males and 80.9% for females) (p. 27).

The large-scale migration to urban centers appears to be a trend that will continue. It is estimated that urban centers are now accounting for 30 percent of the population in Afghanistan (Opel, 2005). The rapid urbanization has shifted rural poverty to urban poverty (Stigter, 2006) and many challenges remain for the cities in managing the rapid growth.

National Trafficking

In 2003 the IOM in Afghanistan conducted a study on trafficking of Afghan women and children. Research on trafficking in Afghanistan is difficult due to the lack of data inherent in all areas of Afghanistan, but increasingly so due to the fear of reporting trafficking related crimes and the shame associated with such


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