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Snapshot 22–28 October

Central African Republic: In Ouaka prefecture, fighting among rival militias persists. Attacks on a number locations, including Bambari, have left dozens of people dead, and civilians have been executed. 3,000 people remain displaced from Bangui after violence began in the middle of the month.

Yemen: Fierce clashes in Rada town have killed 250 people over the past few days. Houthis are fighting Qifa tribe members and Al Qaeda. The Houthis have announced that they will not be part of the new Government, relinquishing Houthi positions to representatives of the South. 33 southern members of parliament have formed a new bloc in support of the growing protest camp set up in Aden, which is demanding secession.

Nigeria: Despite reports of a truce between Boko Haram and the Government, violence is continuing. The military took a town back from BH in Borno state, and Boko Haram attacked several more villages, kidnapping at least 90 people in three separate incidents. Over 4,000 civilians have been killed in the conflict so far in 2014.  

Updated: 28/10/2014. Next update: 04/11/2014

Afghanistan Country Analysis

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

27 October: A Taliban attack on a court in Kunduz killed at least seven and wounded eight (AFP).

26 October: NATO officially handed over security in Helmand to Afghan troops (Le Monde).

 

KEY CONCERNS

- Nearly nine million people (29% of the population) required humanitarian assistance so far in 2014, as a result of conflict between state and anti-government forces, natural disasters, and other contributing factors (Government, 20/10/2014).

- 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).

-  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).

- 2.5 million people are classified as severely food insecure (OCHA), while 5.4 million need access to health services and 1.7 million need protection.

- 4% of children under five (almost 500,000 children) suffer from SAM and eight provinces show GAM rates above 15%, breaching the emergency threshold (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 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 election had been disputed, as was an audit supervised by the UN, which released its results on 26 September, indicating that 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 on-going 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.

Nine journalists and five media workers were killed in 2014 (UN, 23/10/2014). 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).

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 are currently about 41,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak of 130,000 in 2012 (AFP, 30/09/2014).  

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 from the country.

Taliban

The Taliban has been intensifying activities as international forces withdraw from the country, targeting foreign military, humanitarian personnel, and civilians. Remote parts of southern and south eastern Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan, remain under insurgent control. Taliban numbers have increased by 15% since the beginning of 2013.

In August the Taliban intensified attacks on 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). 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).

Incidents

A Taliban attack on a court in Kunduz killed at least seven people, including prosecutors, and wounded eight on 27 October (AFP, 27/10/2014). Another Taliban attack in Khogyani district of Nangahar province on 24 October killed five and wounded two (international media, 24/10/2014).

A suicide bombing in Lashkargah in Helmand province on 8 October left three civilians dead, including a child, and 18 more wounded (Government, 08/10/2014).

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). A Taliban attack on a government compound in Ghazni at the beginning of the month killed 33 and wounded at least 60 (AFP, 04/09/2014).

A Taliban suicide bombing targeting a NATO convoy in Kabul on 13 October killed an Afghan civilian (AFP, 13/10/2014). On 1 October, a day after the BSA was signed, two Taliban suicide attacks targeting army buses in Kabul killed seven people, including one civilian, and injured 15 (AFP, 01/10/2014).

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.

Security Incidents Involving Aid Workers

26 incidents against aid workers were recorded in September. Two aid workers were killed, four wounded, and ten abducted, and there were four incidents targeting deminers (OCHA, 15/10/2014).  

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. Priority needs are for food and NFIs, shelter, cash, and livelihood opportunities (UNHCR, 30/09/2014).

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 shilling and harassments in Kunar displaced 1,633 between June and September, while recent clashes in Kunduz and Kapisa displaced 14,000 people each. Further displacement is expected (UNHCR, 30/09/2014).  

Clashes in northern districts in Helmand province in June displaced nearly 10,000 people. 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. Almost 500 people were displaced to informal settlements in Kabul (USAID, 01/10/2014).

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

By 15 October, nearly 244,200 refugees from North Waziristan agency in Pakistan (33,481 families) had sought refuge in Khost (25,578) and Paktika (7,903) provinces of eastern Afghanistan (mainly Gurbuz, Bermei, and Spera districts) since mid-June (UNHCR, 15/10/2014). 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 30 September, 32,000 people were in informal settlements in Kabul (OCHA, 30/09/2014).

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, 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

54 districts in central Afghanistan will be impossible to access in winter, affecting around 750,000 conflict-displaced WFP beneficiaries (OCHA, 15/10/2014).

IDPs that are inaccessible to humanitarian agencies, particularly in insecure districts in Helmand, are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food security conditions, having lost much of their access to income and not received assistance. Those receiving food and non-food assistance including winterisation packages – displaced households from North Waziristan notably – are classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2), but only due to continued assistance from September through December (FEWSNET, 30/09/2014).

As a result of April-June floods in the north and northeast, affected households will likely be unable to afford both their housing and food needs and may enter in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) if additional humanitarian assistance does not materialize for the period of October through December (FEWSNET, 30/09/2014).

An estimated 2.5 million people were classified as severely food insecure at 31 March (OCHA). A further eight million are food insecure (ECHO, 27/08/2014).

Agriculture and Markets

An estimated 30,000 hectares of agriculture land and perennial crops have been affected by flooding this year (OCHA 15/05/2014).

WASH

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).

Health and Nutrition

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).

Malnutrition

Over 500,000 children under five (4% of children under five) are severely malnourished. 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 24 September, ten polio cases have been reported, mostly in conflict-affected areas. The two latest cases were reported from previously uninfected Kandahar and Paktika provinces and are linked to transmission across the Pakistan border (Global Polio Eradication Initiative, 24/09/2014). 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).

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: 27/10/2014

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