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    IDPs living in cities under vulnerable conditions: UN

    KABUL (PAN): Internally displaced persons (IDPs), deprived of basic civic amenities, are living in extremely vulnerable conditions in urban centres of Afghanistan, a joint study of the UN and World Bank said on Thursday.

    In partnership with the World Bank, UNHCR completed a research study on IDPs in Kabul, Kandahar and Herat cities. A total of 450 IDP households were interviewed to provide the baseline data for the study.

    There are limited reintegration opportunities for returning refugees, according to the study, which called the rapid growth of cities and proliferation of informal settlements a complex challenge for the government and humanitarian actors.

    "The research identifies the realities of displacement and the risk that unplanned urban growth leaves entire communities vulnerable to extreme poverty," said the World Bank country director for Afghanistan, Nicholas Krafft.

    With conflict and insecurity usually being the main push factors, food security and better employment opportunities acted as the key pull factors to urban centres, the UNHCR and the World Bank said in a joint statement.

    "Most urban IDPs live in informal settlements with poor sanitation and few essential services. Over 70% do not have access to electricity, adequate water and sanitation facilities," the study pointed out.

    The Afghan government and the international community were urged to go beyond a purely humanitarian approach and looking for sustainable solutions for IDPs in informal settlements.

    Peter Nicolaus, UNHCR representative, said: "“The ultimate goal is to help the government develop an integrated and comprehensive national IDP strategy for durable solutions, and to assist the humanitarian community to respond more effectively to the assistance and protection needs of IDPs."

    Internal displacement is likely to continue amid insecurity, the study warned, stressing the need for framing a policy for urban development to provide proper housing, security of tenure and access to essential services for IDPs.