This country guidance is currently under review. In view of the recent significant changes, notably the Taliban takeover, assessments within this document may no longer be valid. When examining the international protection needs of applicants from Afghanistan, please consider the most up-to-date country of origin information available.
The criterion of safety would be satisfied where there is no well-founded fear of persecution or real risk of serious harm, or where protection is available.
Absence of persecution or serious harm
The assessment should take into account:
► general security situation
The general situation in Kabul, Herat and Mazar-e Sharif, should be assessed in accordance with the analysis under the section on Article 15(c) QD. Looking at the indicators in this regard, it can be concluded that the general security situation in the cities of Kabul, Herat and Mazar-e Sharif does not preclude the consideration of the three cities as IPA. However, a careful examination of the safety requirement with regard to IPA should take place, particularly when assessing the availability of IPA to Kabul.
► actor of persecution or serious harm and their reach:
In case where the person fears persecution or serious harm by the Afghan State, there is a presumption that IPA would not be available. In specific cases, where the reach of a certain State actor is clearly limited to a particular geographical area, the criterion of safety may be satisfied with regard to other parts of Afghanistan.
Individuals threatened by AGEs often relocate to the cities for their safety.
When assessing the safety of IPA in case of persecution or serious harm by the Taliban, particular consideration should be given to the individual circumstances of the applicant, the capacity of the Taliban to track and target individuals in the cities, the way the applicant is perceived by the Taliban and whether or not a personal enmity is at stake, etc.
For individuals who fear persecution or serious harm by other armed groups such as the Haqqani Network or ISKP, the reach of the particular group and their ability to track and target individuals in the cities should be individually assessed; in most cases the requirement of safety could be satisfied. The operational capacity of such groups to undertake high profile attacks in Kabul and Herat should be taken into account in the individual assessment.
In some cases, where the applicant faces persecution or serious harm for reasons related to the prevalent social norms in Afghanistan and the actor of persecution or serious harm can be the Afghan society at large (e.g. for LGBTIQ persons or for individuals considered to have committed blasphemy and/or apostasy), IPA would in general not be safe. It should also be underlined that it cannot be reasonably expected that the applicant abstains from practices fundamental to his or her identity, such as those related to their religion or sexual orientation, in order to avoid the risk of persecution or serious harm. 
For certain particularly vulnerable individuals, such as women, children and persons with visible mental or physical disabilities, if the actor of persecution or serious harm is the family or the community of the applicant (e.g. forced marriage, honour crime), taking into account the lack of State protection and their vulnerability to potential new forms of persecution or serious harm, IPA would in general not be safe.
See the section Actors of persecution or serious harm.
► whether or not the profile of the applicant is considered as a priority target and/or a threat by the actor of persecution or serious harm
The profile of the applicant could make him or her a priority target for the State or for insurgent groups, increasing the likelihood that the actor of persecution or serious harm would attempt to trace the applicant in the potential IPA location.
► personal enmity
Some private disputes, including those based on honour and blood feuds, could strengthen the determination of the actor of persecution or serious harm to trace the applicant.
► other risk-enhancing circumstances
The information under the section Refugee status should be used to assist in this assessment.
Availability of protection against persecution or serious harm
Alternatively, it may be determined that the requirement of safety is satisfied if the applicant would have access to protection against persecution or serious harm, as defined in Article 7 QD, in the area where IPA is considered.
Taking into consideration that the Afghan State is in general unable to provide protection, which is effective, non-temporary and accessible, the applicability of IPA would depend on establishing the absence of persecution or serious harm in the area in question.