The Changing Dynamics of Afghan Migration after August 2021

MMC Asia and the Pacific and the DRC Diaspora Programme commissioned this research to understand Afghan migration post August 2021, identify demographics, risks, gaps in knowledge, regional responses, and concerns voiced by affected communities, and provide concrete and targeted recommendations for policy and program responses.

This report outlines factors that have shaped motivations of Afghans to chart journeys out of Afghanistan, with particular focus on the timeframe following the Taliban takeover in August 2021. The report also highlights risks that Afghans continue to face as they seek international protection or greater security – including increasing costs associated with being smuggled across borders, targeted violence towards specific marginalised groups, detention, kidnapping, torture, pushbacks, forced returns, and social, psychosocial, and livelihood-based risks in hosting countries.

As the report examines viable means afforded to Afghans to seek immediate protection, its focus is on those in neighbouring countries of Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan – all of which are a part of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)’s Regional Refugee Response Plan for Afghanistan. Recognising that a number of Afghans continue to journey onwards – crossing over from Iran into Türkiye and further often with the intention of reaching Europe – the report also offers a brief overview of regular and safe pathways available to Afghans in Türkiye and in Germany, France, Austria, Greece, Sweden, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Belgium. It should be noted that circumstances in Afghanistan and surrounding countries are rapidly developing, and policy shifts that have come about after mid-2022 – such as the Taliban’s restriction on women’s education and engagement in significant sectors of the labour market – may further affect migration. Reciprocally, these shifts may also trigger new responses from neighbouring states and renewed efforts for legal pathways by other actors.


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