Urban displaced youth in Kabul

Displaced young people in Kabul are waiting to see what the coming year brings for Afghanistan before making a decision as whether to move on again. This provides a window of opportunity to develop youth-sensitive programming.

The results of a recent survey of urban displaced youth (15-24 years of age) in Kabul[1] suggest that displaced youth in Kabul want the opportunity to play a fuller role at home as economic and social actors but that they feel they are not given the opportunity – or the space – to achieve their potential. Out of 2,000 respondents surveyed, only 50 mentioned having plans to move on again, and these were primarily deportees and returnees from Europe, who form a very specific sub-group among the displaced youth.

In the short term, displaced young people in Kabul find opportunities where they can – through insecure jobs locally, or through temporary, cyclical and seasonal jobs in Iran and Pakistan. They remain economically and socially vulnerable and isolated. Rather than migrating overseas, however, they appear to be waiting to see what will happen in Afghanistan over the next year or two. This provides organisations with some time during which they can have an impact on the education, skills and labour market integration of these young people in general and, more specifically, provide options appropriate for displaced young women.

At the moment, the Government of Afghanistan and international and national organisations are lagging behind on developing youth-sensitive programming. Based on our research, we would recommend a neighbourhood approach to youth-sensitive programming, assisting Afghan displaced youth inside their homes (especially young women in need of home-based income-generating activities) and inside their communities where they are often marginalised and lack strong networks or representation.

Stakeholders should use this window of opportunity to a) develop training programmes tailored to the needs of male and female displaced youth, including community-based skills upgrading programmes at the neighbourhood level, and b) open youth centres in Kabul city where young people can interact with each other and seek advice, and where NGOs can more easily offer training.


Nassim Majidi Nassim.majidi@samuelhall.org is Director, Samuel Hall Consulting http://samuelhall.org and PhD candidate at Sciences Po, Paris.


[1] Urban displaced youth in Kabul city, research led by Samuel Hall Consulting in Afghanistan. Report forthcoming 2014.
See also: Samuel Hall Consulting (2013) Afghanistan’s Future in Transition: A Participatory Assessment of the Afghan Youth, commissioned by Afghan Deputy Ministry of Youth Affairs, UNDP, UNFPA and UNICEF.



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