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Snapshot 20–27 May 2015

Mali: Gao and Timbutku regions have been the scene of multiple clashes between the Azawad Movement Coalition and Malian forces, as well as the pro-government Gatia militia. At least 12 people have been killed, including nine civilians. About 31,500 people have been displaced from three districts in Timbuktu region. They are in urgent needs of water, food, NFIs, and shelter support, but access is limited.

Yemen: Violence increased after the ceasefire ended 17 May, and surged again after the postponement of peace talks on 25 May. Casualty numbers since the escalation of conflict in March have reached 1,870 dead and 7,580 injured. 490,000 people in Sa’ada can no longer be reached, and food items are no longer available in a number of governorates. The fuel crisis is making it even more difficult to meet basic needs.

DRC: A surge in ADF attacks in Beni territory, North Kivu, has displaced more than 15,000 people. In Orientale, 4,000 people have been displaced by an FARDC offensive. In Katanga, 400 cases of measles are being recorded per week in Malemba Nkulu territory.

Updated: 27/05/2015. Next update: 02/06/2015

Afghanistan Country Analysis

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

26 May: Refugees in Khost and Paktika have exhausted their short-term coping mechanisms and need livelihood opportunities to face long term displacement (UNHCR).

19 May: Four people were killed and 24 wounded by a suicide attack in a parking lot of the Ministry of Justice, Kabul (AFP).

25 May: Two Taliban attacks, in the provinces of Zabul and Kandahar: 70 people, including women and children, were injured in Zabul and six civilians were killed by a roadside bombing in Kandahar province (AFP, 25/05/2015).

16 May: Between 1 April and 15 May, natural disaster events affected 44,823 people (6,690 families) (OCHA).

 

KEY CONCERNS

- Between January and March 2015, 1,810 civilian casualties; casualties from ground engagements and  from mortars and rockets rose 8% and 47%, respectively, compared to the same period in 2014. Women and children casualties continue to increase (UNAMA, 12/04/2015).

- 6.9 million in need of humanitarian aid in 2015. Badghis, Helmand, Kunar, Nangarhar, and Wardak most need assistance (UNICEF, 21/01/2015; OCHA, 25/11/2014).

- 242,732 refugees from Pakistan since mid-June 2014; long-term concerns from protracted displacement (UNHCR, 22/04/2015; 06/04/2015).

- As of end of April, there were 873,000 IDPs in Afghanistan, including half displaced in April, and 24% displaced by conflict in 2014 (UNCHR, 24/05/2015).

- Nearly 68,000 people (9,300 families) in 137 districts of 24 provinces have been affected by floods, heavy snowfall, and avalanches over 1 February–15 April. Priority needs are for food, NFIs, and emergency shelter (ECHO, 15/04/2015; IFRC, 18/03/2015).

- 3.7 million people are food insecure (IPC, 01/11/2014).

- 517,600 children under five suffer from SAM, and eight provinces show GAM rates above 15%, breaching the emergency threshold (UNICEF, 21/01/2015, OCHA, 31/07/2014).

 

OVERVIEW

Natural disasters and armed conflicts in Afghanistan have caused humanitarian crisis. Assistance needs include food, healthcare, and protection.

The Afghan Government faces both internal and external challenges to its capacity and legitimacy, and political instability. The security environment is highly volatile and expected to deteriorate as international troops gradually withdraw from the country.

Political Context

Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah were sworn in as Afghanistan’s President and Prime Minister, respectively, on 29 September 2014 (Reuters, 29/09/2014). The pair were rival presidential candidates in disputed elections (AFP, 26/09/2014). President Ghani introduced a list of 16 new cabinet appointments on 1 April, replacing the candidates rejected by Parliament end January (local media, 01/04/2015; AFP, 04/02/2015).

Peace Talks with the Taliban

Peace talks with the Afghan Taliban have been stalled since mid-2013. On 10 January, Afghanistan joined Pakistan in military operations against militants in both countries (British & Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group, 31/01/2015). On 2 May, an Afghan delegation held an open discussion in Qatar with the Taliban (Trust.org, 04/05/2015; AFP, 02/05/2015).

Security Context

On 22 April, Afghan Taliban announced the start of its spring offensive, targeting foreign embassies and government officials, as well as military (Trust.org, 22/04/2015). Assaults increased in five districts of Kunduz province in early May (BBC, Afghanistan Analyst Network).

There were 1,810 civilian casualties between 1 January and 31 March (655 killed, 1,155 injured). Civilian casualties from ground engagements rose by 8%, casualties from mortars and rockets by 47%, and women and children casualties continue to increase. The sustained use of indiscriminate weapons and IEDs is of concern (UNAMA, 12/04/2015).

3,699 civilians were killed and 6,849 injured in 2014, a 22% increase in casualties on 2013 (UNAMA, 18/02/2015).

Taliban

Remote parts of southern and southeastern Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan, remain under Taliban control. Taliban numbers have increased by 15% since the beginning of 2013, and the group has intensified attacks. The Taliban is increasingly financed by criminal enterprises including heroin laboratories, illegal ruby and emerald mines, and kidnapping (UNSC, 02/02/2015).

International Military Presence

NATO formally ended its combat mission in Afghanistan on 31 December 2014, moving to the Resolute Support mission made up of 9,800 US troops and 3,000 soldiers from other member states. The mission will focus on supporting Afghan forces’ fight against the Taliban, along with US counter-terrorism operations (Reuters, 01/01/2015). The number of US troops remaining in Afghanistan until end December is significantly higher than the 5,500 initially planned, and has been denounced by the Taliban (Le Monde, 24/03/2015).

Conflict Developments and Incidents

Helmand: Four civilians and three police were killed and seven people wounded in the attack in Lashkargah on 13 May (Reuters, 13/05/2015). On 20 April, Taliban militants attacked a police station in Lashkargah, killing three officers (Trust.org 20/04/2015). Three Taliban attacks in March, targeting provincial officials and a police station, killed 20 people and wounded 69 (AFP, 18/03/2015; 11/03/2015; 03/03/2015).

Kabul: Four people were killed and 24 wounded by a suicide attack in a parking lot of the Ministry of Justice (AFP, 19/05/2015). Three people working with the EU police were killed on 17 May in a Taliban car bombing (AFP, 17/05/2015). 14 civilians, most of them foreigners, were killed in a Taliban attack targeting a guesthouse (AFP, 14/05/2015). A Taliban suicide bomber struck a government bus on 10 May, killing three and wounding at least 16 others (AFP, 10/05/2015). A suicide car bombing of a bus carrying civil servants in West Kabul on 4 May killed one and wounded 15 (Trust.org, 04/05/2015). Bombing and suicide attacks targeting mainly government and foreign officials have killed 24 and wounded at least 32 in March and April (AFP, 10/04/2015; 06/04/2015; 25/03/2015; 17/03/2015; 07/03/2015; 26/02/2015)

Nangahar: A suicide attack killed 33 people and wounded 115 others in Jalalabad on 18 April. President Ghani said Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility, making this its first major attack in the country (AFP, 18/04/2015). A suicide attack targeting a NATO convoy killed three and wounded four (AFP, 10/04/2015).

Kunduz: Taliban offensives took place simultaneously in five districts on 2 and 3 May (Afghanistan Analyst Network, 3/05/2015). The Taliban, supported by foreign fighters, has come close to the provincial capital, cutting it off (Trust.org, 06/05/2015, 07/05/2015; BBC, 07/05/2015; AFP, 08/05/2015). The Government launched a major offensive on 7 May near the city. 100 people, including ten elders, have been killed since an estimated 50 foreign fighters from an unidentified group settled in the province. Residents have been asked for money, girls’ education is regulated, and meetings with government officials are subject to authorisation.

Other incidents: A Taliban suicide attack targeting a government building injured 70, including women and children, on 25 May in Zabul province. The same day in Kandahar province, six civilians were killed by a roadside bombing (AFP, 25/05/2015). Taliban insurgents abducted 27 people in Paktia province on 16 May but released 25 of them the next day (AFP, 16/05/2015; 17/05/2015). Dozens of Taliban fighters attacked local government buildings in Badghis and may have captured the whole area on 10 May (Reuters, 10/05/2015).

During April, security incidents, mainly bombing, gun attacks and fire exchanges, in Laghman, Nimroz, Ghazni, Balkh, Baghlan, Uruzgan and Logar killed at least 46 people and injured dozens (AFP, 25/04/2015, 23/04/2015, 10/04/2015, 9/04/2015, 06/04/2015, 03/04/2015; Trust.org, 26/04/2015).

Suspected Taliban gunmen abducted 31 members of the country’s Hazara Shi’ite Muslim minority on 23 February in Zabul province. As of 11 May, 12 are still held hostage and one had been killed (BBC, 11/05/2015; Trust.org 20/04/2015; AFP, 24/03/2015; 17/03/2015).

Humanitarian Context and Needs

Planning figures are for 6.9 million Afghans in need of humanitarian aid in 2015, including 2.8 million children, compared to 7.4 million in 2014 (UNICEF, 21/01/2015). Badghis, Helmand, Kunar, Nangarhar, and Wardak most need assistance (OCHA, 25/11/2014).

Access

As of 8 May, commercial flights to Kunduz have been suspended (AFP, 08/05/2015). As of 30 April, WFP has reported no accessibility to some districts bordering Pakistan, in east Farah, south Ghor and north Helmand as well as to the north of Badghis and south of Jowzjan (WFP, 30/04/2015).

Security Incidents Involving Aid Workers

Violence against health workers is a public health risk. In April, one health staff was seriously injured in Kandahar province (WHO, 18/05/2015). In Paktia province, 19 mine clearance workers were abducted and released two days later (Trust.org, 20/04/2015; 21/04/2015). Five members of an NGO’s national staff were killed by their abductor on 10 April in Uruzgan (UN, 11/04/2015).

In March, there were 19 incidents against national and international NGOs. Four people were wounded, ten abducted, and two arrested (OCHA, 19/04/2015). There were 293 incidents against aid workers in 2014, including 57 killed (UN, 11/04/2015; OCHA, 31/12/2014).

Disasters

Between 1 April and 15 May, natural disaster events including avalanches, flooding, heavy rainfall, landslides and mudflows affected 44,823 people (6,690 families). 125 were killed or injured and 6,062 houses destroyed or damaged. The most affected provinces are Badakhshan, Baghlan and Faryab (OCHA, 16/05/2015). Accessibility and security challenges due to road closures and areas controlled by non-state armed groups are hampering needs assessment and aid provision in some provinces. Priority needs are for food, NFIs, and emergency shelter (ECHO, 15/04/2015; IOM/USAID, 15/03/2015; IFRC, 18/03/2015; IFRC; 11/05/2015).

Displacement

There are 866,000 IDPs in Afghanistan and 205,113 refugees from Pakistan in Khost and Paktika provinces; returns from Pakistan are increasing since December 2014, while around 2.5 million Afghans have taken refuge in neighbouring countries. 

IDPs

As of end of April, there were 873,000 IDPs in Afghanistan, including half displaced in April, and 24% displaced by conflict in 2014. Nearly 220,000 IDPs are in the south, 216,000 in the west, 145,000 in the east and 121,000 in the North Afghanistan (UNHCR, 24/05/2015).

Armed conflicts between armed groups and government continued to be the most cited reason for displacement across the country. Food and NFIs are the most urgent need but the security context challenges access. Another challenge is the identification of genuine IDPs, while host communities sometimes wrongly claim displacement (UNCHR, 24/05/2015).

Fighting in Kunduz has reportedly displaced 14,000 families as of 8 May (AFP, 08/05/2015).

Military operations in Helmand have triggered displacement since February and by 31 March, the Kandahar Provincial Disaster Management Committee (PDMC) had reported 1,896 displaced families. Priority needs are food and NFIs; health needs also emerged in the south (UNHCR, 28/02/2015, 31/12/2014, OCHA 19/04/2015).

Refugees

Displacement from Pakistan to Afghanistan’s Khost and Paktika provinces has been ongoing since mid-June 2014. As of 13 May, these provinces were hosting around 205,113 refugees (32,543 families) from Pakistan, 75% of them in Khost (UNHCR, 13/05/2015). Funding shortfalls limited response to the most urgent needs, which persist for shelter, nutrition, and WASH (UNHCR, 08/04/2015; 01/04/2015; OCHA; 24/05/2015). Spontaneous returns of refugees to Pakistan have been reported, although the number is unknown (UNHCR, 14/04/2015; 08/04/2015).

An additional 600,000 Baloch refugees who have fled insurgency activities in Pakistan since 1986 are living in precarious conditions, notably in Nimroz (AAN, 31/12/2014).

Returnees

Returns of Afghans from Pakistan have increased following security incidents in Pakistan, particularly the December Taliban attack in Peshawar. Returnees report an increased number of protection issues and cite eviction notices by authorities as the primary factor that influenced their return (UNHCR, 24/05/2015). As of 13 May, 60,000 Afghans have returned home voluntarily since early 2015, including 21,505 through UNCHR. 6,000 have been expelled (AFP, 13/05/2015; UNHCR, 24/05/2015). 30–40% of undocumented returnees are vulnerable and in need of assistance (OCHA, 28/02/2015; IOM, 13/02/2015). 25,000 people returned in 2014 (AFP, 13/05/2015).

Afghan Refugees in Neighbouring Countries

As of 30 September 2014, there were 2.5 million Afghan refugees in neighbouring countries (USAID, 01/10/2014).

Food Security

As of April, Badghis province is in IPC Phase 3, Crisis. Badakhshan, Nuristan, Ghor, Daykundi and Bamyan are in IPC Phase 2, Stressed (FEWSNET, 01/05/2015). IDPs and households affected by heavy rains and snowfall in 2015 are expected to remain in Phase 2 through June (FEWSNET, 31/03/2015). By November 2015, it is estimated that 500,000 to 990,000 people will be in IPC Phase 3 or higher (FEWSNET 20/05/2015).

Agriculture and Markets

Floods and avalanches since 23 February have destroyed farmland and orchards across the country (Government, 28/02/2015).

2014 wheat production was 64% lower than 2013, and January 2015 wheat grain and flour prices have increased 12% on average compared to 2014, leading to excess sales of livestock; Badghis province is most affected (FEWSNET, 11/02/2015).

Livelihoods

Refugees in Khost and Paktika have exhausted their short term coping mechanisms and need livelihood opportunities to face long term displacement (UNHCR, 26/05/2015). Political uncertainty during 2014 led to decreased investment in many sectors including construction and trade, which are key employers of casual labour. Faryab province saw the largest decline in casual labour wages: rates were 43% lower in September than in 2013 and the five-year average (FEWSNET, 01/11/2014). Decreased prices for some cash crops in 2014 compared to 2013 limited income (FEWSNET, 01/12/2014).

Opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has risen by 7% in a year, from 209,000 hectares in 2013 to 224,000 hectares in 2014 (UN, 12/11/2014).

Health and Nutrition

There is a shortage of trained surgeons, anaesthetists, and trauma capacity in conflict-affected areas (OCHA, 25/11/2014). Nearly 80% of maternal and reproductive health needs are unmet (WHO, 10/12/2014). Tuberculosis is also a high burden for Afghanistan, but many new cases were missed out in 2014 due to lack of close monitoring (Government, 24/03/2015).

Measles

29 measles outbreaks were reported in April 2015 (WHO, 18/05/2015). 445 laboratory-confirmed cases of measles were reported in the first quarter of 2015, representing a significant increase from last year’s total of 581 cases (WHO, 26/04/2015).

Nutrition

517,596 children suffer from SAM (UNICEF, 21/01/2015). In Uruzgan, Nuristan, Khost, Paktia, Wardak, Kunar, and Laghman provinces, GAM rates were breaching the emergency threshold of 15% in mid-2014 (National Nutrition Survey, OCHA 31/07/2014).

An estimated 45% of all child deaths in refugee and IDP camps are linked to malnutrition (UNICEF, 21/01/2015). The presence of common animal diseases in areas of Khost and Paktika have reduced the availability of meat and milk products to Pakistani refugees and host communities (FEWSNET, 11/02/2015). Fewer than 20% of moderately and severely acute malnourished children received the treatment they needed in 2014 (OCHA, 25/11/2014).

Polio

One case of polio has been reported so far in 2015, from Helmand province. 28 cases were reported in 2014, mostly in conflict-affected areas, compared to 14 in 2013 and 37 in 2012 (WHO, 26/04/2015; Global Polio Eradication Initiative, 25/02/2015; 14/01/2015).

WASH

1.9 million Afghans are in need of better access to safe WASH facilities (UNICEF, 21/01/2015). Refugee influxes have stretched already limited water and hygiene resources and infrastructure in Khost and Paktika; lack of solid waste management and latrines are major challenges (UNHCR, 08/04/2015).

Shelter

A growing number of IDPs live in informal settlements in major Afghan urban centres, in substandard and crowded accommodation, with insufficient WASH facilities, food, education, and employment opportunities. Women are particularly at risk, with reduced access to education, health, and livelihood opportunities, and facing significant unmet mental health needs (NRC, 23/03/2015). As of 11 December, 40,629 refugees were in 52 informal settlements in the capital. The most populated is Charahi Qamber (7,436 people) (OCHA, 17/12/2014). Overall numbers on people in informal shelters across Afghanistan are missing.

Education

Educational facilities in Khost are overstretched, with 344 schools employing 6,000 teachers and teaching around 360,000 children. There are 50,000 school-aged refugee children in Khost (Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 05/11/2014).

Protection
Child Protection

The Afghan national and local police and three armed groups (Taliban, Haqqani Network, and Hezb-e-Islami) have been listed for recruitment and use of children, which was criminalised in December 2014 (Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict 02/05/2015).

Detention

35% of visited detainees in national facilities have experienced ill-treatment or torture, including 42% of child detainees, in a United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) study conducted between February 2013 and December 2014. The same type of study over 2011–2012 showed 49% of detainees had experienced ill-treatment or torture (OHCHR, UNAMA, 25/02/2015).

Mines and ERW

4,271 minefields and battlefields remain in Afghanistan, corresponding to almost 536 km2 in 255 districts of 33 provinces (MAPA/MACCA, 06/04/2015). There is an average of 38 civilian casualties every month and another 61 civilian casualties are recorded due to improvised explosive devices (IED) (MAPA, 18/05/2015).

As of 23 April, 919,546 m2 in Gulan camp has been cleared as well as 1,276,870 m2 around the camp, where refugees have settled more recently (UNHCR, 23/04/2015; 13/05/2015).

Sexual Violence

Sexual violence is underreported because of the social stigma attached to it and lack of access to Taliban-controlled areas. Between January 2014 and January 2015, UNAMA registered 44 cases (UN Security Council, 15/04/2015).

Updated, 26/05/2015