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Snapshot 22–28 July 2015

Somalia: More than 10,000 people have been displaced in Lower Shabelle and Bay regions since AMISOM and Somali armed forces began their offensive. Al Shabaab has lost control of Bardhere in Gedo and Dinsoor in Bay. In accessible areas of Hudur town, Bakool, 33% GAM and 19% SAM were observed in a MUAC assessment in July – a significant deterioration since June. Very critical malnutrition rates persist in Bulo Burde, Hiraan.

DRC: Measles has broken out in Maniema, with 415 cases recorded so far. 2,115 cases have been reported in Orientale this year, and 15,000 in Katanga. One reason for the rise in cases is lack of vaccination. Dungu, in Haut-Uele, Orientale, has seen a significant fall in WASH coverage and routine vaccination.

South Sudan: The cholera outbreak continues, with 1,375 cases recorded since 18 May, most in Juba county. At 3.2%, the case fatality rate is double the global average. In Unity state, the government has prevented food aid reaching Malakal.

Updated: 28/07/2015. Next update 04/08/2015.

Afghanistan Country Analysis

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

27 July: At least 20 people were killed and eight wounded in a gunfight at a wedding ceremony in Deh Salah district, Baghlan province (international media)

22 July: A suicide attack killed 19 people and injured at least 28 in Almar district of Faryab province (UNAMA).

 

KEY CONCERNS

- Nearly 4,200 civilians killed over January–June, a 16% increase on the same period in 2014 (USAID, 02/07/2015). Casualties from mines, IEDs and ERWs remain significant (UNMAS/MAPA 30/06/2015)

- 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).

- 205,440 refugees from Pakistan since mid-June 2014; long-term concerns over protracted displacement (UNHCR, 11/06/2015).

- 947,870 IDPs in Afghanistan. Significant new displacements in Kunduz province since April (IDMC, 16/06/2015).

- 500,000–990,000 people will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or higher food security outcomes by November 2015 (FEWSNET, 22/07/2015).

 

OVERVIEW

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

The Afghan Government faces internal and external challenges to its capacity, legitimacy, and stability. 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, in September 2014 (Reuters, 29/09/2014). The pair were rival presidential candidates in disputed elections, but are struggling to maintain a unity government (Reuters, 08/07/2015; AFP, 26/09/2014). Leaders of ethnic groups have criticised Ghani for filling key government posts to Pashtun kin (Reuters, 08/07/2015; AFP, 26/09/2014). Parliamentary elections scheduled for April 2015 were postponed because of security concerns and disagreements over vote procedure. The current Parliament’s mandate has been extended until a vote can be held (Reuters, 19/06/2015; local media, 01/04/2015).

Peace Talks with the Taliban

Afghan officials and Taliban met in Islamabad in Pakistan on 8 July and have agreed to meet again end July, potentially in China. Informal talks in recent months have not brought any breakthrough (AFP, 24/07/2015; 08/07/2015).  Taliban leader Mullah Omar has expressed his support for the peace talks (The Guardian, 15/07/2015).

Security Context

As of 22 June, nearly 4,200 civilians have been killed in 2015, a 16% increase on the same period in 2014 (USAID, 02/07/2015).  3,699 civilians were killed and 6,849 injured in all 2014 (UNAMA, 18/02/2015). Incidents in 2015 have been concentrated in Helmand and Kabul, with intense fighting between Afghan forces, the Taliban, and other anti-government groups also reported in northern provinces in recent months, including Kunduz, Badakhshan, Nangarhar, Faryab, Baghlan, and Nuristan (Cordaid, 07/07/2015; RSF, 07/07/2015; local media, 16/07/2015).

Stakeholders
Taliban

Remote parts of southern and southeastern Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan, remain under Taliban control. The group has intensified attacks since April, especially in the north, in particular in Badakhshan and Faryab (local media, 16/07/2015; Al Jazeera, 13/06/2015). The group is increasingly financed by criminal enterprises including heroin laboratories, illegal mining, and kidnapping (UNSC, 02/02/2015).

Islamic State (IS)

Militants fighting under the IS banner in Afghanistan, including an unknown number of Taliban defectors and foreign fighters, have reportedly seized territory from the Taliban in at least six of Nangarhar’s 21 districts. Uncertainty remains regarding their links with IS in the Middle East (Reuters, 29/06/2015).

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 focus of the mission is on supporting Afghan forces’ fight against the Taliban, along with US counter-terrorism operations (Reuters, 01/01/2015).

Conflict Developments and Incidents

Helmand: A suicide attack on police headquarters in Lashkar Gah killed three and wounded more than 50 on 30 June (international media, 30/06/2015). An explosion in Marka district on 20 June killed 14 people and wounded five (AFP, 20/06/2015).

Kabul: Two Taliban suicide attacks targeting a NATO convoy and a branch of the National Directorate of Security killed one and wounded five on 7 July (AFP, 07/07/2015). A Taliban suicide attack targeting NATO troops killed two and wounded 26 on 30 June (international media, 30/06/2015). At least two people were killed and 31 wounded in a Taliban attack on the Afghan Parliament on 22 June, when President Ghani was to introduce his Defence Minister nominee (AFP, 22/06/2015).

Kunduz:  Intense fighting has been reported between Afghan forces and the Taliban in the province in recent months. An explosion in Kunduz city killed two and wounded four on 12 July (AFP, 12/07/2015). Taliban offensives took place in five districts on 2 and 3 May (AAN, 3/05/2015). The Taliban, supported by foreign fighters, have come close to the provincial capital, cutting it off in May (BBC, 07/05/2015).

Faryab: A suicide attack killed 19 people and injured at least 28 in Almar district on 22 July (UNAMA, 22/07/2015). Since early July the Taliban has seized more than 100 villages in Qasyar, Almar, and Shirin Tagab districts (local media, 16/07/2015). 40 houses in Almar were set on fire  (UNAMA, 15/07/2015).

Baghlan: At least 20 people were killed and eight wounded in a gunfight at a wedding ceremony in Deh Salah district on 27 July (International Media, 27/07/2015). At least 40 civilians were wounded by a bomb attack targeting a mosque in Baghlan province on 13 July (UNAMA, 14/07/2015).

Other incidents: A suicide attack near the military base of Camp Chapman in Khost province killed at least 33 people, mostly women and children, and wounded six on 12 July (AFP, 12/07/2015; BBC, 13/07/2015). An explosion in Tagab district, Kapisa, killed ten and wounded six on 12 July (AFP, 12/07/2015). An explosion in Kandahar on 11 July killed three (AFP, 11/07/2015).

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

Humanitarian access is a key operational concern: tens of thousands of civilians remain trapped in conflict zones as of end June (USAID, 02/07/2015). Deteriorated security conditions in Helmand significantly hamper the delivery of assistance (OCHA, 15/07/2015). Journalists have had to withdraw from Badakhshan and Nangarhar due to insecurity (RSF, 07/07/2015). Commercial flights to Kunduz were suspended in May. Conflict in Chardara district in particular makes it increasingly difficult for civilians to reach Kunduz city to access basic services (MSF, 25/06/2015; AFP, 08/05/2015).

Security Incidents Involving Aid Workers

Aid workers were assaulted by Afghan forces in a health facility in Kunduz on 1 July (MSF, 03/07/2015). 14 aid workers were killed in 27 incidents reported against national and international organisations across the country in June, including nine national NGO workers in Balk province on 2 June, and five incidents involving health facilities and health staff (OCHA, 15/07/2015; Reuters, 02/06/2015). 11 aid workers were killed in 21 incidents involving violence against humanitarian staff or damage to NGO facilities in May (USAID; 02/07/2015).

In 2014, there were 293 incidents against aid workers, including 57 killed (UN, 11/04/2015; OCHA, 31/12/2014).

Disasters

107,451 people were affected by floods, landslides and heavy snowfall in 2015, mostly in February; 513 people were killed, and 14,460 houses damaged or destroyed. Badghis, Faryab, and Nangarhar provinces were most affected (OCHA/IOM, 02/07/2015).

Displacement
IDPs

Increasing insecurity has led to a rise in internal displacement. As of end June, 947,870 IDPs were recorded, compared to 805,409 in December 2014. 223,280 are in the south (24%), 220,430 in the west (23%), and 169,960 in the centre (18%). Priority needs are for water, food, housing, and employment (IDMC, 16/06/2015; UNHCR 31/12/2014). The security context challenges access and identification of IDPs (UNCHR, 24/05/2015).

Fighting in the north of Kunduz province since May has displaced more than 134,000 people, including 32,960 to Kunduz city, and significant numbers to Badakhshan, Badghis, Baghlan and Faryab provinces (OCHA, 25/06/2015; 28/05/2015).

By 31 March, 13,840 Afghans had reportedly been displaced by military operations in Helmand in 2015 (OCHA 19/04/2015).

Refugees

Displacement from Pakistan to Afghanistan’s Khost and Paktika provinces has been ongoing since mid-June 2014. As of 8 June, these provinces were hosting around 205,440 refugees from Pakistan, the majority in Khost (including 10,210 families in Gulan camp) (UNHCR, 11/06/2015). There are concerns about the host communities’ ability to support the refugee population, in particular in terms of food, shelter, and education. A recent influx of 700 refugee families has been reported, but not verified (UNHCR, 15/06/2015). Spontaneous returns of refugees to Pakistan have been reported, although the number is unknown (UNHCR, 14/04/2015).

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

The number of reported Afghan returnees from Pakistan vary between 42,385 and 139,500 (OCHA, 15/07/2015; UNHCR, 30/06/2015). Returns have increased following security incidents in Pakistan, particularly the December 2014 Taliban attack in Peshawar. Returnees report an increasing number of protection issues as the main reasons for return: eviction notices by authorities, discrimination, movement restrictions, settlement closure, and harassment (UNHCR, 31/05/2015).

30–40% of undocumented returnees are vulnerable and in need of assistance; 80% of Afghanistan is reportedly not safe for people to be sent back to (BBC, 16/07/2015; OCHA, 15/07/2015). In 2014, only 17,000 people returned from Pakistan (UNHCR, 31/05/2015).

Afghan Refugees in Neighbouring Countries

Some 2.6 million Afghan refugees remain in neighbouring countries, including 1.5 million in Pakistan (UN, 29/06/2015).

Food Security

Approximately eight million people are food insecure, including 2.1 million severely, according to a recent vulnerability assessment (USAID, 02/07/2015). By November 2015, it is estimated that 500,000 to 990,000 people will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food security or worse (FEWSNET, 22/07/2015).

As of April, Badghis province is facing Crisis. Badakhshan, Nuristan, Ghor, Daykundi and Bamyan are Stressed (IPC Phase 2) (FEWSNET, 01/05/2015). Severe food gaps are reported in fourteen villages of Arghanjkhah district of Badakhshan, affecting 17,940 people (Food Security Cluster/USAID, 14/07/2015).

Agriculture and Markets

36% of irrigated crops and 5% of rain-fed crops were damaged by late frost in Bamyan province end May; potatoes and fruit – the main sources of cash for households – were most impacted. This is likely to affect food security (Solidarités Internationales, 16/06/2015).

The 2015 wheat harvest is expected to be above the previous two years’, except in Ghazni, Bamyan, Daikundy, Kandahar, Hilamand, Zabul, Uruzgan, Paktya, Paktika and Khost (FAO, 03/07/2015; FEWSNET/WFP, 07/06/2015).

Livelihoods

Refugees in Khost and Paktika have exhausted short-term coping mechanisms and need livelihood opportunities to face long-term displacement (UNHCR, 26/05/2015).

Health and Nutrition

Conflict-related injuries and damage to health facilities both increased in May (WHO, 02/07/2015). 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 a high burden for Afghanistan, but many new cases were missed in 2014 due to lack of close monitoring (Government, 24/03/2015).

Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF)

Ten suspected CCHF outbreaks were reported from Herat province in May. The case fatality rate has reached an alarming 40% (WHO, 02/07/2015).

Measles

Nine measles outbreaks were reported from Paktika, Ghor, and Uruzgan provinces in May (WHO, 02/07/2015). In the first quarter of 2015, 445 laboratory-confirmed cases of measles were reported, compared to 581 cases in all of 2014 (WHO, 26/04/2015).

Nutrition

Nearly 517,600 children suffer from SAM (UNICEF, 21/01/2015). 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 has reduced the availability of meat and milk products to Pakistani refugees and host communities (FEWSNET, 11/02/2015).

Polio

Three cases of polio have been reported so far in 2015 (GPEI, 03/06/2015). 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).

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, while access to latrines and potable water remains a challenge in Urgun district, Paktika (UNHCR, 15/06/2015; 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).

1,300 people in informal settlements in Kabul have received eviction warnings for end June. 40,000 people remain in 50 informal settlements in Kabul (USAID, 02/07/2015).

Education

Language barriers are a challenge for refugees (UNHCR, 31/05/2015). 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).

In provinces most affected by fighting, schools have closed over the fear that students might get caught in crossfire. In northern Baghlan, for example, at least 18 schools were closed in May (Reuters, 31/05/2015).

Protection

Afghan local police has reportedly been involved in intimidation, physical abuse or violence, bribe-taking, salary fraud, and theft. Incidents of rape, drug trafficking, drug abuse and the selling or renting of local police weapons and vehicles have also been reported (ICG, 05/06/2015).

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 (Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict 02/05/2015). Children have also been used as suicide bombers by armed groups (UNSC, 15/05/2015).

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).

Mines and ERW

559km2 (4,321 hazardous areas) are contaminated by minefields and explosive remnants of war (ERW). In 2015, there has been an average of 103 total casualties per month from mines, IEDs and ERW (UNMAS/MAPA, 30/06/2015).

Updated: 27/07/2015