None of the literature surveyed applies the term ‘social exclusion’ to the Afghan context and most of the relevant discussion is couched in terms of ‘vulnerable groups’. These are identified primarily as women, returnees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), people with disabilities, and ethnic groups such as the Kuchi nomads. Children, the elderly and ex-soldiers are also generally considered vulnerable groups. For all these groups, there are very few reliable statistics available.
Women are considered one of the most vulnerable groups in Afghanistan. They often face multiple discrimination – as rural women, widows, disabled women, internally displaced women, etc. In the other areas, it appears that disability issues are being addressed by the government, and various ministries have identified them as a priority. Rural areas, which contain almost 80% of the population, lag behind on most health, education and participation indicators. The issue of returning refugees and IDPs remains of pressing importance. Socio-economic concerns, land and property rights issues and ongoing insecurity have resulted in renewed waves of displacement – almost 20,000 families last year. Kuchis make up over 70% of the IDP population and live in displacement camps in some of the most insecure areas.