Amnesty International said hundreds of thousands of Afghans uprooted by insecurity subsist in urban slums, deprived of their right to adequate housing, food, water, health and education.
"The burgeoning problem of displacement is a human rights crisis and could lead to greater instability in the otherwise relatively stable urban areas – the Afghan government and its international partners must address this long-neglected issue," Horia Mosadiq, Amnesty International's Afghanistan researcher, said in a statement.
The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) estimates that the number of people displaced inside the country could rise to 700,000 by the end of 2013, Amnesty noted.
The meeting on July 8 of 70 international organisations and donors aims to secure aid commitments for Afghanistan up to 2014, when most NATO troops will depart, and to chart a course for assistance beyond.
Japanese news agency Kyodo reported on Thursday that donor governments are expected to pledge a total of $15 billion in development aid for Afghanistan through 2015.
In addition, Afghan President Hamid Karzai will seek $3.9 billion in annual assistance from the international community to rebuild the Afghan economy starting from 2015, Japanese media said earlier this week.
Despite billions of dollars in outside aid over the past decade or so, Afghanistan remains one of the world's 10 poorest countries.
Improvements have been made in school attendance and healthcare for mothers and children. But three-quarters of Afghans are illiterate and the average person earns only about $530 a year, according to the World Bank.
“As the international military plan their withdrawal, we need guarantees to ensure the needs of half a million Afghans displaced by conflict are addressed, improvements to women’s rights continue, and that Afghan forces have the resources to investigate and compensate for civilian casualties," Mosadiq said.
Human rights gains - including new legislation, better access to education and health services and the development of a vibrant media - are "being increasingly undermined by insecurity and lack of respect for the rule of law, a burgeoning narcotics trade, an inept justice system, poor governance, endemic corruption and systemic poverty”, Mosadiq warned.
WOMEN EXCLUDED IN RUSH FOR PEACE?
Amnesty also urged the Afghan government and its international supporters to ensure that Afghan women are meaningfully represented and have their concerns reflected during reconciliation talks.
“The rights of women and girls must not be sold out for expedient peace deals with elements of the Taliban and other insurgent groups,” Mosadiq said.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that a failure to include women in decision-making processes and high-level policy discussions increases their fears that the desire to bring peace through a compromise with the Taliban could lead to women’s rights being bargained away.
Donors in Tokyo should make it clear to the Afghan government that continued international support will be linked to further progress on women’s rights, HRW said. And they should ensure that adequate funding remains available to support schools, clinics, hospitals, shelters and other essential services.
HRW noted in a statement that half of all Afghan girls are not in school and very few finish high school, while attacks on girls’ schools are common. Women in public life or working outside the home face threats and sometimes violence.
Meanwhile, violence against women goes largely unpunished, in spite of a 2009 law meant to stop it. And around 400 women and girls are in prison for “moral crimes”, including fleeing domestic violence or forced marriage, HRW said.
“The human rights situation in Afghanistan is poor and could become even worse,” Brad Adams, HRW's Asia director, said in a statement. “The decisions that donors make today will have huge implications for the lives of ordinary Afghans in the years ahead.”