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Last update: November 2021

This profile includes people who belong to the Hazara ethnicity. Mostly, persons of Hazara ethnicity are of Shia religion and the two profiles should be read in conjunction.

The majority of the Hazara population inhabits the Hazarajat. Hazara are also well represented in most cities, including Kabul.

The Hazara ethnicity can usually be recognised by their physical appearance.

COI summary

Since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, the Hazara had improved their position in society. The 2004 Afghan Constitution included the Hazara as one of the people that comprise the nation of Afghanistan and Hazara occupied various positions in the former government administration. There was no information on mistreatment by the State [COI query on Hazaras, Shias, 1.1, 1.2].

Attacks by insurgent groups have mainly been attributed to ISKP, who consider Hazara/Shia legitimate targets. These attacks have significantly affected the Hazara population. Attacks by ISKP targeted places where Hazara/Shia gather, such as religious commemorations, weddings, and sites (e.g. hospitals) in Hazara-dominated neighbourhoods in large cities, including Kabul and Herat. Such attacks could be related to their religion (see the profile 2.15.2 Shia, including Ismaili). Among other reasons, the ISKP also reportedly targets the Hazara due to their perceived closeness and support for Iran and the fight against the Islamic State in Syria [COI query on Hazaras, Shias, 1.3, 1.4; Anti-government elements, 3.3, 3.6.1].

There were instances of Hazara civilians being abducted or killed while travelling along the roads by other armed groups such as the Taliban. In reported incidents where Hazara road passengers were singled out and killed or abducted, other reasons could often be identified, such as non-political communal disputes or the individual being an ANSF member, having a job in the government or the NGO sector, etc., linking these incidents to other profiles such as 2.1 Persons affiliated with the former Afghan government or 2.6 Healthcare professionals and humanitarian workers, including individuals working for national and international NGOs [COI query on Hazaras, Shias, 1.3, 1.4; Anti-government elements, 3.6.1; 2.5; Security 2020, 1.2, 1.5.2, 2.1; Conflict targeting, 1.2.10].

For the first half of 2021, UNAMA reported a resurgence of ‘deliberate sectarian motivated attacks against the Shia Muslim religious minority’, mostly the Hazara ethnic minority. Nearly all 20 incidents during this period were claimed by ISKP and included shootings and non-suicide IED attacks, some involving buses and other vehicles transporting members of the Hazara community, resulting in 500 civilian casualties (143 killed and 357 injured) [Security September 2021, 1.4.2].

During that period, there were reports of such attacks in several provinces, including Baghlan, Daykundi, Ghazni, Ghor, Helmand, Nangarhar, Samangan, and in the Kabul City, attributed to both ISKP and the Taliban [Security September 2021, 2.1, 2.4, 2.7, 2.10, 2.11, 2.12, 2.23, 2.30]. The deadliest attack against civilians in Afghanistan in the first half of 2021 was on 8 May 2021, with three non-suicide vehicle-borne IEDs detonated outside of Sayed ul-Shuhada school in Kabul City, in a neighbourhood mainly inhabited by the Hazara community. At least 85 civilians were killed and 216 others were injured in this attack, most of them were schoolgirls. Sources attributed the attack to ISKP [Security September 2021, 2.1].

Amnesty International documented the Taliban massacre of nine Hazara men in Malistan district, Ghazni province, in July 2021, noting ‘Six of the men were shot and three were tortured to death, including one man who was strangled with his own scarf and had his arm muscles sliced off’. Following the brief recapture of the district by pro-government militia, around 20 Hazara residents were killed by the Taliban. In mid-July 2021, Taliban reportedly attacked two other Hazara majority districts in Ghazni: Nawur and Jaghori [Security September 2021, 2.10, 2.1].

Risk analysis

The acts to which individuals under this profile could be exposed are of such severe nature that they would amount to persecution (e.g. killing, abduction, sectarian attacks).

The situation of Hazara has to be assessed in light of the recent takeover by the Taliban, however, information concerning the policies the Taliban intend to pursue towards the minority is currently limited. The risk of targeting by ISKP should also be assessed in light of the group’s operational capacity. Risk-impacting circumstances could be related to other profiles, such as 2.15.2 Shia, including Ismaili, 2.1 Persons affiliated with the former Afghan government, or 2.6 Healthcare professionals and humanitarian workers, including individuals working for national and international NGOs.

Nexus to a reason for persecution

Available information indicates that persecution of this profile may be for reasons of (imputed) religion (see profile 2.15.2 Shia, including Ismaili), (imputed) political opinion (e.g. links to the former government, perceived support for Iran), and/or race (ethnicity).