Security for civilians in Afghanistan is worse now than at any time since the 2001 military intervention, according to a report published by the International Crisis Committee. Afghanistan: The Perilous Road Ahead says that the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) has tripled since 2007 - from 128,801 in 2007 to 447,547 in 2011 - whilst the number of civilian deaths in 2011 increased for the fifth year in a row.
Last year also marked a ten-year high for asylum bids by Afghans, as the number of Afghan refugees who returned home dropped to a record low. Most of Afghanistan's 30.4 million people continue to live in poverty, despite the huge amounts of military and civil aid from the international community.
An IRC survey of 450 internally displaced families living in 'informal settlements' in Kabul, Herat and Kandahar indicates that while conflict is the primary reason for displacement, unemployment and under-employment are also key factors. Natural disasters, such as last year's drought, add to the problems.
The IRC report calls for a shift in responsibility for the delivery of basic services from aid organisations to the Afghan government. However, it recognises that there are serious barriers to such a strategy, including security outside major urban areas, weak links between national, provincial and district offices and lack of security and employee payment systems, thus making it difficult to manage government employees. Whilst criticising some aid initiatives, it praises the National Solidarity Program for successfully delivering aid throughout the country.