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Snapshot 21-27 January

Nigeria: Boko Haram attacks continue, with Borno state capital Maiduguri and nearby military bases targeted on 25 January. Security forces pushed BH back from Maiduguri, but further attacks are expected. BH also raided villages in Michika local government area, Adamawa state. There are reports that BH has forbidden the use of vehicles in areas under its control.

Ukraine: 13–21 January has been the deadliest period since the ceasefire declaration of 5 September. The death toll had increased by 200 since the beginning of January, with at least 5,086 people killed in total as of 21 January. 10,948 people have been wounded. The number of IDPs has increased by almost 50,000 since 14 January.

Updated: 27/01/2015. Next update: 03/02/2015

Afghanistan Country Analysis

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

No significant developments, 26/01/2015. Last update 20/01/2015.

 

KEY CONCERNS

- 9,617 civilians killed or injured January–November (UNAMA, 19/12/2014). At 15 November, 19,469 security incidents, a 10% increase compared to the same period in 2013 (UN, 09/12/2014).

- 7.4 million in need of humanitarian aid at end November. Badghis, Helmand, Kunar, Nangarhar and Wardak most need assistance (OCHA, 25/11/2014).

 - Nearly 286,750 Pakistani refugees in Khost and Paktika in need of health, WASH, food, shelter, and livelihood support (UNHCR, 14/01/2015).

- 16,266 returnees in 2014 and 805,409 IDPs including 156,200 people displaced by conflict in 2014 (UNHCR, 31/12/2014). 

- 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 (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 shelling 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 were major causes of insecurity and displacement in 2014 (UNHCR, 30/09/2014). Conflict between state and anti-government elements was ongoing in Kunar, Maidan Wardak, Helmand and Kapisa provinces end December (UNHCR, 31/12/2014).

9,617 civilians were killed or injured by conflict between January and November 2014; 3,188 were killed, the highest annual toll since 2009. Children civilian casualties increased 33% compared to 2013, with casualties among women up 12% (UNAMA, 19/12/2014).

International Military Presence

NATO formally ended its combat mission in Afghanistan on 31 December, 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. The move will test the readiness of 350,000 Afghan forces to deal with intensified Taliban attacks (Reuters, 01/01/2015).

Taliban

The Taliban claimed victory against NATO as it ended its combat mission, and said they would continue their fight against remaining foreign forces in the country (Al Arabiya, 29/12/2014). 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, as the group intensified attacks.

Conflict Developments and Incidents

Kabul: A suicide attack targeting an EU police vehicle killed at least one passer-by on 5 January (AFP, 05/01/2015). The capital had been hit by at least 12 suicide attacks over 1 November – 13 December 2014, mainly targeting foreigners (AFP, 13/12/2014).

Helmand: Shelling in Sangin on 1 January killed 25 civilians and injured a further 45 (UN, 01/01/2015). A Taliban attack on 17 December killed six people, including three police, and injured seven (AFP, 17/12/2014).

Kunar: Clashes involving the Taliban, Afghan militants and ANSF in Dangam district over three weeks in December killed five civilians and injured eleven (OCHA, 31/12/2014).

Nangarhar: Six people were killed by an IED explosion in Nangarhar on 17 January (UNAMA, 18/01/2015). Gunmen killed a police officer and two civilians, and wounded seven others in Nangarhar on 31 December (Radio Liberty, 31/12/2014).

Other incidents: An explosion in Jaghuri district in Ghazni killed eight and injured two on 20 January (AFP, 20/01/2015). A police officer opened fire on fellow officers in Uruzgan province on 30 December, killing three and wounding five (Radio Liberty, 31/12/2014).

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).

Humanitarian Context and Needs

At end November, 7.4 million of people in Afghanistan need humanitarian aid. Badghis, Helmand, Kunar, Nangarhar, and Wardak most need assistance (OCHA, 25/11/2014).

Access

Lack of access to verify displacement and respond to immediate needs of IDPs continues to be a significant challenge (UNHCR, 31/12/2014).

Movement restrictions are increasingly being applied to aid workers. Access continues to present challenges to humanitarian actors in Helmand and in the eastern region, particularly in Kunar and Nangarhar (OCHA, 31/10/2014). Road closures between Lashkar Gah and Sangin in Helmand hamper efforts to transport wounded from the districts to the provincial hospitals (OCHA, 31/12/2014).

International military withdrawal raises concerns over reduced funding affecting the sustainability of services available to the population (Handicap International, 04/12/2014).

Security Incidents Involving Aid Workers

The Mine Action Programme in Afghanistan was directly affected by 37 incidents that resulted in 34 deaths among its personnel and 27 injuries in 2014, including 12 mine clearance workers killed in a Taliban attack in Helmand in December (UN, 15/01/2015).

There were 293 incidents against aid workers in 2014, including 13 in December resulting in one wounded and five abducted, compared to eight aid workers killed and 12 abducted in 23 incidents in November and four killed and 13 abducted in October (OCHA, 31/12/2014, 30/11/2014).

Disasters

Around 117,280 people were affected by natural hazards in 2014, mainly floods and heavy rainfall in northern and central Afghanistan (IOM, 14/01/2015).

Displacement
IDPs

At end December, there were 805,400 profiled IDPs in Afghanistan, mainly in southern, western, and eastern areas; 156,200 of these were displaced by conflict in 2014 (UNHCR, 31/12/2014).

In December, 6,120 IDPs were displaced from Kapisa to Kabul, 3,556 were displaced in Ghazni, 2,209 in Badghis, including from Ghor province, 2,024 in Kunar and 1,930 in Farhah, an increase on November numbers; priority needs are for food, NFIs, winterisation assistance, and cash grants (UNHCR, 31/12/2014).

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).

IDPs are particularly impacted by the severe winter temperatures (UN, 07/01/2015). In November, people began leaving IDP camps where shelters are inadequate for winter (FEWSNET, 01/11/2014). Most IDPs in conflict-affected areas are with host families, in rented accommodation or in emergency shelters.

Refugees in Afghanistan

Displacement from Pakistan to Afghanistan’s Khost and Paktika provinces has continued since mid-June. At 14 January, these provinces were hosting nearly 286,750 refugees (40,012 families) from Pakistan (UNHCR, 14/01/2015). 281,180 were in need of assistance at 31 December (FEWSNET, 31/12/2014). More than 1,200 new families reportedly arrived in Matun and Alisher districts in Khost early January (UNHCR, 14/01/2015).

Gulan camp in Khost hosts around 6,400 families, but more than 80% of refugees live in host communities, which are often remote and difficult to access, and stretched beyond capacity (UNHCR, 14/01/2015; 03/12/2014). Gurboz district in Khost and Bermei in Paktika have the highest number of refugees, with 11,410 and 10,215 families, respectively.

Health, WASH, food, shelter, and mine clearance are priorities; additional needs include winterisation, education, and livelihood support (UNHCR, 02/10/2014). Host communities’ resilience is expected to decrease over winter months as resources are exhausted and available shelter is limited (UNHCR, 23/10/2014).

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

Kabul: As of 11 December, 40,629 refugees were in 52 informal settlements in the capital (OCHA, 17/12/2014). The most populated are Charahi Qamber (7,436 individuals), Chamani Babrak (3,429) and Puli Campany (3,652) (OCHA, 17/12/2014).

Returnees

Around 7,700 Afghans have been reported to have returned to Khost, Paktika, Kabul, and Nangarhar provinces from Pakistan’s North Waziristan since fighting broke out in June 2014 (IOM, 21/01/2015).

At 30 September, 16,266 Afghan refugees had voluntarily repatriated in 2014, a 57% decrease on 2013, partly due to the extension of Proof of Registration cards in Pakistan until 31 December 2015 and security concerns in Afghanistan. 32% returned to northern and northeastern regions, 27.6% to central regions and 13.5% to eastern regions (UNHCR, 30/11/2014). Returnees are in need of income-generating activities, vocational training, and technical education (IMC, 31/08/2014).

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% of the population) are severely food insecure (IPC Phase 3 or higher). 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). In Badakhshan, 32% of the population is in Emergency (154,680) and 24% in Crisis (114,977).

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 receiving assistance (FEWSNET, 01/11/2014). Pakistani refugees in Khost and Paktika provinces, as well as hosting families, are expected to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) until March, but only thanks to continued humanitarian assistance (FEWSNET, 31/12/2014).

Households in Badghis province will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through March 2015 at least, due to a below-average 2014 harvest. Those who have been unable to stock adequate food for the winter and lean season may enter Crisis from January to March as the winter reduces market access (FEWSNET, 01/11/2014).

Due to a funding shortfall, WFP has been able to pre-position only 35% of food assistance for an estimated 830,000 people ahead of winter (OCHA, 31/12/2014). 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). Conflict in Helmand in 2014 hampered farmers’ ability to harvest 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).

Decreased prices for some cash crops compared to last year is limiting incomes (FEWSNET, 01/12/2014). 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

The number of people in need of access to health services has increased from 3.3 to 5.4 million (OCHA).

Pneumonia and acute respiratory infections are major concerns during the winter season. Access to health facilities may also be hampered by winter weather (WHO, 03/11/2014).

Conflict is causing widespread disruption to health services (WHO 24/07/2014). 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).

Nutrition

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

Less than 20% of children with SAM and MAM received the treatment they needed in 2014 (OCHA, 25/11/2014). Some 189,000 deaths of under-fives are most likely attributable to malnutrition (OCHA, 25/11/2014).

Polio

28 polio cases were confirmed in 2014, mostly in conflict-affected areas, compared to 14 in 2013 (Global Polio Eradication Initiative, 14/01/2015). Extensive cross-border movement is a major challenge. Afghan and Pakistani authorities agreed in July to cooperate in an anti-polio campaign in their border areas (DAWN, UNICEF 12/07/2014).

WASH

Sanitation, water quality, and hygiene remain public health concerns in Khost and Paktika (WHO, 03/11/2014). Additional latrines are needed in Gulan camp (UNHCR, 08/01/2015).

Shelter and NFIs

Two million people are living higher than 2,000m in Afghanistan and exposed to extreme winter conditions, including 244,200 new refugees in Khost and Paktika, 32,000 displaced in Kabul informal settlements and 2,300 recently displaced by conflict. 423,300 children under five, 253,920 people over 55, 7,000 in need of shelter and 544,000 economically vulnerable living in hard-to-reach reach areas are also vulnerable (OCHA, 31/10/2014). 29,600 people will be facing winter without adequate shelter (OCHA, 25/11/2014).

As of October, 3,805 houses remained completely destroyed in the north by floods earlier in the year (OCHA, 15/10/2014).

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
Gender and Gender-based Violence

There are reports of possible increased domestic violence as a result of camp conditions (UNHCR, 08/01/2015).

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

Violence against Journalists

There were 129 incidents of violence against Afghan journalists in 2014, resulting in eight deaths, a 69% increase in incidents on 2013. The increase in cases follows international troops’ withdrawal and a tense political situation after contested presidential elections (International Media Support, 15/01/2015).

Reviewed, 26/01/2015

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