Last update: April 2022
This chapter looks into the topic of internal protection alternative. It analyses the situation in Afghanistan in relation to the requirements of Article 8 QD.
Article 8 QD
1. As part of the assessment of the application for international protection, Member States may determine that an applicant is not in need of international protection if in a part of the country of origin, he or she: (a) has no well-founded fear of being persecuted or is not at real risk of suffering serious harm; or (b) has access to protection against persecution or serious harm as defined in Article 7; and he or she can safely and legally travel to and gain admittance to that part of the country and can reasonably be expected to settle there. 2. In examining whether an applicant has a well-founded fear of being persecuted or is at real risk of suffering serious harm, or has access to protection against persecution or serious harm in a part of the country of origin in accordance with paragraph 1, Member States shall at the time of taking the decision on the application have regard to the general circumstances prevailing in that part of the country and to the personal circumstances of the applicant in accordance with Article 4. To that end, Member States shall ensure that precise and up-to-date information is obtained from relevant sources, such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the European Asylum Support Office.
It should be noted that the provision of Article 8 QD is an optional one. Therefore, the relevance of this chapter to the practice in Member States will depend on the transposition of Article 8 QD and/or the concept of IPA in national legislation and its implementation in practice.
In national legislation and practice, IPA may also be referred to as ‘internal flight alternative’, ‘internal relocation’, etc.
IPA should only be examined after it has been established that the applicant has a well-founded fear of persecution or faces a real risk of serious harm and that the authorities or other relevant actors of protection are unable or unwilling to protect him or her in the home area. In such cases, if IPA applies, it can be determined that the applicant is not in need of international protection.
It should, however, be stressed that there is no requirement that the applicant has exhausted the possibilities to obtain protection in different parts of his or her country of origin before seeking international protection.
The analysis of IPA should be part of the assessment of the future risk of being subjected to persecution or serious harm. When assessing whether IPA applies, the burden of proof lies with the determining authority, while the applicant remains under an obligation to cooperate. The applicant is also entitled to submit elements and indicate specific reasons why IPA should not be applied to them. Those elements have to be assessed by the determining authority.
In order to determine that internal protection is available in a particular part of the applicant’s country of origin, three cumulative criteria have to be met: ‘safety’, ‘travel and admittance’ and ‘reasonableness to settle’.
Figure 7. IPA: elements of the assessment.
For more general guidance on the application of IPA, see the EUAA Practical guide on the application of the internal protection alternative.
For profiles who have a well-founded fear of persecution or real risk of serious harm by the Taliban, the safety criterion would not be met, taking into account the territorial control of the group.
For individuals with a well-founded fear of persecution or real risk of serious harm related to targeting by other actors, the uncertainty of the current situation and the lack of protection meeting the requirements of Article 7 QD would result in IPA not being safe. In exceptional cases a person may not have a well-founded fear or face a real risk of serious harm after relocating to a particular part of the country, depending on the reach of that actor. When assessing whether the requirement of safety would be substantiated, the uncertainty of the current situation should be taken into account.
There are currently no known restrictions on travel and admittance within Afghanistan for men. Women’s ability to travel on their own in Afghanistan was already constrained by social and formal restrictions and often their freedom of movement was limited by the requirement of male consent or male chaperone. Following the takeover, the Taliban have announced further restrictions on travel for women which may affect women’s ability to safely and legally travel within Afghanistan. In particular, the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice reportedly issued a guidance saying that women should not be offered transport of more than 45 miles (72 kilometres) if unaccompanied by a close male relative and calling on drivers to not offer rides to women that are not wearing hijab [Country Focus 2022, Introduction].
In those exceptional cases where both the safety and travel and admittance criteria under IPA could be met, particular attention should also be given to the current humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. The latter would affect the reasonableness criterion within the assessment under Article 8 QD and result in IPA generally not being reasonable. See also the sub-section on Humanitarian situation under General remarks.
Therefore, at the time of writing, it is considered that IPA in general, would not be applicable to any part of Afghanistan.