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Snapshot 19–25 November

Pakistan: Drought conditions in Sindh have affected nearly 1.7 million people; nearly 500 have died in Tharparkar, including 296 children. In FATA, the number of people displaced by the military’s operation Khyber One in the Tirah Valley has grown to 440,000 people, adding to 993,000 displaced by operations in North Waziristan.

Liberia: Two million children are thought to be affected by the consequences of the Ebola epidemic. High levels of unemployment are affecting income: 70% of households in a recent survey said they do not have enough money to afford food.

South Sudan: An unconfirmed number of people, mostly women and children, have fled fighting in Southern Kordofan and are in need of humanitarian assistance in Yida, Unity state. A new estimate has put the death toll from the conflict in South Sudan at 50,000 since December 2013.

Updated: 25/11/2014. Next update: 02/12/2014

Afghanistan Country Analysis

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

23 November: A suicide attack in Yahya Khail district of Paktika province killed 57 civilians and injured 60, the country’s deadliest single attack since 2011 (AFP).

18 November: A Taliban suicide attack in Kabul killed two Afghan guards and injured one civilian (AFP).

12 November: Aerial bombardments on 26 October in North Waziristan agency displaced around 2,680 people to Afghanistan’s Gulan camp (UNHCR).

 

KEY CONCERNS

- Nearly 5,000 civilians killed or injured in the first six months of the year – 25% more than the year before (UNAMA, 04/07/2014). 5,456 security-related incidents recorded 1 June–15 August, a 10.7% increase on 2013 (UN, 09/09/2014).

- Nearly nine million (29% of the population) have required humanitarian assistance so far in 2014 (Government, 20/10/2014).

-  2.4 million people need safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene services, as a result of the landslides and flash floods (UNICEF, 30/07/2014).

 - Nearly 245,000 Pakistanis and Afghan returnees in Khost and Paktika provinces need food, WASH, shelter, winterisation preparation and non-food items (UNHCR, 15/10/2014).

- 13,845 returnees in 2014 and 755,000 IDPs (UNHCR, 30/09/2014); 113,000 were displaced in 2013 (UNHCR, OCHA, 02/2014).

- 7 million people are severely food insecure (IPC, 01/11/2014), while 5.4 million need access to health services and 1.7 million need protection.

- 853,000 children under five suffer from SAM, and eight provinces show GAM rates above 15%, breaching the emergency threshold (OCHA, 31/07/2014; 28/10/2014).

 
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 the outcome of the 2014 presidential election will have implications for the country’s internal cohesion. The security environment is highly volatile and expected to deteriorate as international troops gradually withdraw from the country.

Political Context

On 29 September, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah were sworn in as Afghanistan’s new President and Prime Minister, respectively (Reuters, 29/09/2014). The pair were rival presidential candidates in disputed elections. A disputed UN audit released its results on 26 September, indicating that Ghani won, with 55% of the votes (AFP, 26/09/2014). 

Peace Talks with the Taliban

Although various official and informal sources have evoked renewed preliminary contacts between Kabul and the Taliban, no substantial talks have yet been launched. Peace talks with the Afghan Taliban have been stalled since mid-2013.

Security Context

Harassment and intimidation by anti-government forces, inter-tribal disputes, cross-border shilling in Kunar province, and clashes between state and anti-government forces in Farhah, Nangarhar, Ghazni, Badghis, Maidan Wardak, Parwan, Kunduz, Logar, Helmand and Kapisa provinces in 2014, are major causes of insecurity and displacement. Conflicts are ongoing in the four latter provinces (UNHCR, 30/09/2014).   

Nearly 5,000 civilians were killed or injured in the first six months of 2014, 25% more than in the same period of 2013. Mortars and rockets caused almost 1,000 civilian casualties, a 160% increase on 2013 (UNAMA, 04/07/2014). Between 1 June and 15 August, the UN recorded 5,456 security-related incidents across Afghanistan, a 10% increase on 2013.

Ten journalists and five media workers have been killed in 2014, compared to three in 2013 (UN, 02/11/2014). 68 cases of violence against journalists were recorded between January and June, a 60% increase on 2013 (UN, 26/08/2014).

International Military Presence

NATO troops officially handed over security in Helmand to Afghan troops on 26 October (Le Monde, 26/10/2014). There are currently about 41,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak of 130,000 in 2012 (AFP, 30/09/2014).  

On 30 September, the US-Afghanistan Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) was signed. After 2014, NATO’s Resolute Support mission will be 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. There is widespread concern regarding the capacity of the 352,000 Afghan security forces to deal with intensified Taliban attacks as international forces slowly withdraw.

Taliban

On 2 October, Taliban leader Mullah Omar claimed victory against NATO and urged Taliban fighters to continue their fight against the Afghan Government (British Agencies Afghanistan Group, 05/11/2014).

Remote parts of southern and south eastern Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan, remain under Taliban control. Taliban numbers have increased by 15% since the beginning of 2013, as the group intensifies attacks in the wake of NATO troop withdrawal.

Conflict Developments and Incidents

A suicide attack in Yahya Khail district of Paktika province on 23 November killed 57 civilians and injured 60, the country’s deadliest single attack since 2011 (AFP, 24/11/2014).

Two Taliban bombings in Logar and Jalalabad killed 10 police on 10 November. A suicide car bomb killed at least nine security personnel and wounded 20 civilians in Azra district, Logar province, on 1 November (Radio Liberty, 01/11/2014).

A Taliban suicide attack in Kabul on 18 November killed two Afghan guards and injured one civilian (AFP, 18/11/2014). A suicide bomber attacked the vehicle convoy of a prominent female Afghan MP near the parliament in Kabul on 16 November, killing three civilians and injuring 22 (AFP, 16/11/2014). A bombing on 10 November day injured two civilians, while a suicide attack in Kabul’s police headquarters on 9 November killed an officer and injured six other people (Le Monde, 10/11/2014).

In October, Kabul witnessed six suicide attacks, two roadside bomb explosions, and two rocket attacks, while southern and eastern provinces saw increased Taliban activity and assassinations of district officials.

A major Taliban offensive in Ajristan district of Ghazni province over 20–26 September killed up to 100 civilians and security personnel (AFP, 26/09/2014).

In August the Taliban intensified attacks in Kunduz (the Taliban's last stronghold before the US-backed Northern Alliance drove them out in 2001), engaging the army, police forces and local militias in combat (AFP 24/08/2014). Khanabad district is one of the most vulnerable areas in Kunduz; it hosts more than 1,500 militants, most of them rivals (AAN, 28/10/2014).

In June, armed clashes involving 800 Taliban and Afghan forces took place in Sangin, Musa Qala, Naw Zad and Kajaki districts of Helmand province (UNAMA).

Humanitarian Context and Needs

As a result of conflict between state and anti-government forces, natural disasters, and other contributing factors, nearly 9 million people in Afghanistan required humanitarian assistance in 2014 (Government, 20/10/2014).

Access

The fluctuating security situation is continually changing the operating environment and access (WFP 22/05/2014). Movement restrictions are increasingly being applied to aid workers. Access continues to present challenges to humanitarian actors in the eastern region, particularly in Kunar and Nangarhar (OCHA, 31/10/2014).

Security Incidents Involving Aid Workers

27 incidents involving aid workers were recorded in October. Four aid workers were killed and 13 abducted, compared to two and ten, respectively, in September (OCHA, 31/10/2014). By 15 August, there had been 117 cases of violence against aid personnel, assets, and facilities in 2014, resulting in 37 deaths and 35 injuries, 114 abductions and attempted abductions and the arrest and detention of five personnel (UN, 09/09/2014).

Disasters

Nearly 3,250 people were affected by flooding in four districts across Laghman, Khost, Paktika and Wardak provinces in August (IOM/USAID 11/08/2014). 210,530 people, mainly in northern and central Afghanistan, were affected by natural disasters between January and July, primarily by floods and heavy rainfall (OCHA, 19/08/2014).

Displacement
IDPs

As of 30 September, there were nearly 755,000 IDPs in Afghanistan, mainly in southern, western, and eastern areas, including 142,800 displaced during the last 12 months. 33,200 were displaced in September alone (FEWSNET, 01/11/2014).

About 73,000 IDPs were living in urban areas in Kabul Hirat, Mazar-e-Sharif and in settlements outside Hirat early November (OCHA, 06/11/2014). Priority needs are for food and NFIs, shelter, cash, and livelihood opportunities (UNHCR, 30/09/2014). Displaced households living in IDP camps have started leaving the camps where shelters are inadequate for the coming winter (FEWSNET, 01/11/2014).

Clashes between state and anti-government forces in 2014 displaced 11,722 people to Kabul from Maidan Wardak, Nangarhar, Logar, Kunar, and Helmand; 3,811 people in Kunduz, 2,761 in Helmand, 2,706 in Ghazni, 2,297 in Farhah, 1,647 in Maidan Wardak, 1,602 in Logar, and 1,324 in Badghis. Cross-border shelling and harassment in Kunar displaced 1,633 between June and September, while recent clashes in Kunduz and Kapisa have displaced 14,000 people in each province. Further displacement is expected (UNHCR, 30/09/2014).  

In Helmand, Sangin, Musa Qala and Nehr-e-Saraj districts remain insecure, and humanitarian access is limited (FEWSNET, 30/09/2014). Most IDPs are with host families, in rented accommodation or in emergency shelters.

Flood-related displacement: As of October, 3,805 houses remain completely destroyed in the north by floods earlier in the year. Families require support for winterisation (OCHA, 15/10/2014). Most people displaced in Badakhshan and Takhar provinces are still living in camps with insufficient WASH facilities, requiring emergency shelter, NFIs, basic health services, and psychosocial support. The situation is constrained by poor access and security issues (Red Cross, 09/10/2014).

Refugees in Afghanistan

Following aerial bombardments on 26 October in North Waziristan agency, around 2,680 Pakistanis sought refuge at the Gulan camp in Khost province; they need urgent assistance with food and emergency shelter (UNHCR, 12/11/2014).

By 15 October, nearly 244,200 refugees (33,481 families) from North Waziristan had arrived in Afghanistan’s Khost (25,578) and Paktika (7,903) provinces (mainly Gurbuz, Bermei, and Spera districts) since mid-June (UNHCR, 15/10/2014). Nearly 181,000 (27,000 families) are in need of humanitarian assistance (OCHA, 30/10/2014). Pakistani refugees are not expected to return to their country before March or April, due to infrastructure destruction, winter, and reduced livelihood opportunities (UNHCR, 29/10/2014).

September saw an increase of arrivals at Gulan camp and in Gurbuz, Alisher, and Spera districts (UNHCR, 02/10/2014). More than 80% of refugees live in host communities, which are often remote and difficult to access, and stretched beyond capacity (OCHA, 15/10/2014). The ability of host communities to support the high number of refugees is expected to decrease over winter months as resources are exhausted and available shelter is limited. Host communities have already started asking for food and nutrition support (UNHCR, 23/10/2014; 15/10/2014).

Health, WASH, food, shelter, and mine clearance are priorities; additional needs include winterisation, education, and livelihood support (UNHCR, 02/10/2014).

As of 5 November, 32,073 people were in 53 informal settlements in Kabul (OCHA, 11/11/2014). The most populated are Charahi Qamber (4,570 individuals), Tape Qasaba (2,533), and Puli Campany (2,166), Puli Shina Bagrami (1,836), and Nasaji Bagrami (1,790) (Danish Refugee Council, 20/10/2014).

Returnees

As of 1 October, 4,430 Afghans (797 families) have returned from Pakistan’s North Waziristan to Khost, Paktika, and Kabul provinces. All families from Paktika and Kabul returned to their province of origin (IOM, 07/10/14). Returnees are in need of income-generating activities, vocational training, and technical education (IMC, 31/08/2014).

At 30 September, 13,845 Afghan refugees had voluntarily repatriated in 2014, including 12,000 from Pakistan (UNHCR, 20/11/2014), a 59% decrease on 2013, partly due to the extension of Proof of Registration cards in Pakistan until 31 December 2015 and security concerns in Afghanistan. Most are in Kabul, Nangarhar, Kunduz, Kandahar, and Hirat (UNHCR, 30/09/2014).

Afghan Refugees in Neighbouring Countries

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

Food Security

About 7 million people (23.4% of the population) are severely food insecure (IPC Phase 3 or higher). Badakhshan is the only province classified in Emergency (IPC Phase 4); 15 provinces are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), mainly in northern and central parts of the country, and 17 are Stressed (IPC Phase 2) (IPC, 01/11/2014). 

IDPs inaccessible to humanitarian agencies, particularly in insecure districts in Helmand, are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food security, having lost much of their access to income and not received assistance. Displaced households from North Waziristan Agency in Khost and Paktika provinces will move from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) if additional food and NFI are not delivered beyond November 2014 (FEWSNET, 01/11/2014).

Households affected by April-June floods in the north may enter Crisis phase if they do not receive additional humanitarian assistance October–December (FEWSNET, 30/09/2014).

Below-average precipitation in Badghis province during March and April and cold weather during crop vegetative stage led to a below-average harvest. Poor households will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from November through March 2015 (FEWSNET, 01/11/2014).

Due to a funding shortfall, WFP has been able to pre-position only 60% of food assistance for an estimated 830,000 people ahead of the winter this year (OCHA, 30/10/2014). 54 districts in central Afghanistan will be impossible to access in winter, affecting around 750,000 conflict-displaced WFP beneficiaries (OCHA, 15/10/2014).

Agriculture and Markets

Wheat grain and flour prices in Afghanistan have increased 17% on average due to decreased flow of imported food commodities during the prolonged presidential election dispute (FEWSNET, 01/11/2014).

An estimated 30,000 hectares of agriculture land and perennial crops have been affected by flooding this year (OCHA 15/05/2014). During recent conflicts in Helmand province, locals reported that markets did not function for several days, and farmers had difficulties harvesting their crops (FEWSNET, 01/11/2014).

Livelihoods

Political uncertainty 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. They were 23% and 14% lower than 2013 in Badakhshan and Balkh provinces, respectively (FEWSNET, 01/11/2014).

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

Health and Nutrition

Pneumonia and acute respiratory infections are major concerns for the upcoming winter season as many provinces and districts face extremely cold weather. Access to health facilities may also be hampered (WHO, 03/11/2014).

The number of people in need of access to health services has increased from 3.3 to 5.4 million (OCHA). Conflict is causing widespread disruption to health services (WHO 24/07/2014). In October, there were two incidents involving NGO-run health facilities, including the abduction of a midwife and other clinic staff (OCHA, 31/10/2014). 

Nutrition

Over 853,000 children under five are severely malnourished (OCHA, 28/10/2014). Provinces in need of urgent attention are Uruzgan, Nangarhar, Nuristan, Khost, Paktia, Wardak, Kunar, and Laghman, where GAM rates are breaching WHO’s 15% threshold for an emergency (National Nutrition Survey, OCHA 31/07/2014).

As of 31 March, 53,000 people had died from acute malnutrition, and 45% of 420,000 deaths among under-fives were attributable to under-nutrition (OCHA).

Polio

As of 8 November, 19 polio cases have been confirmed in 2014, mostly in conflict-affected areas, compared to 14 in 2013 (Government, 08/11/2014). Extensive cross-border movement is a major challenge. Afghan and Pakistani authorities agreed in July to cooperate in an anti-polio campaign in the border areas of their countries (DAWN, UNICEF 12/07/2014).

WASH

Sanitation, water quality and hygiene remain public health concerns in Khost and Paktika. Health and hygiene risk awareness must be raised in the international response (WHO, 03/11/2014). The needs of 128,327 individuals (29,200 refugees and 98,937 individuals in the host community) were assessed in Khost for WASH assistance; priority district targets for emergency WASH response are Gurbuz, Khost, Center/Lakan, Mandozayi, Terezayi and Spera in Khost, and Barmal and Urgun in Paktika (UNHCR, 29/10/2014).

In July, around 2.4 million people were in need of WASH services as a result of landslides and flash floods during the first quarter of 2014 (UNICEF, 30/07/2014).

Shelter and NFIs

Two million people are living higher than 2,000 meters in Afghanistan, including 244,200 new refugees in Khost and Paktika, 32,000 displaced in Kabul Informal Settlements and 2,300 recently displaced by conflict in areas of high altitude, leaving them exposed to winter conditions. 423,300 children under five and 253,920 people over 55, 7,000 in need of shelter and 544,000 economically vulnerable living in hard reach areas are also vulnerable. Fuel, food and NFI are key priorities (OCHA, 31/10/2014).

Education

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

Protection

Around 1.7 million people are in need of protection assistance, mainly IDPs and people otherwise affected by conflict. IDPs need durable solutions for their protracted displacement (OCHA).

Protection concerns are growing for Pakistani refugees and Afghan returnees in Khost province. Access to women and girls in Gulan camp remains a challenge (UNHCR 23/07/2014). The presence of landmines is also of concern.

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. The Taliban has been listed for attacks on schools and hospitals (Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict 02/06/2014).

Updated: 24/11/2014

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