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Snapshot 11 August – 25 August 2015

Haiti: Insecurity has increased since legislative elections. Violence and intimidation were reported at many polling stations and a second round of voting is planned, following low voter turnout. Food security has deteriorated as a result of prolonged drought conditions since the beginning of 2015: poor households in Sud, Sud-Est, Nord-Est and Artibonite will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food security outcomes through December. Recent cholera rates are triple those of the comparable time period in 2014.

Chad: Between 21 July and 21 August, over 41,000 people were displaced in the Lake Region because of the escalating number of attacks related to the Boko Haram insurgency and rapid deterioration of the security situation. The conflict has displaced 75,000 people since January.

South Sudan: There are widespread reports of renewed clashes between government and rebels. Some humanitarian organisations have evacuated staff to safer areas. The conditions inside PoC camps continue to deteriorate following an influx of over 61,000 IDPs since 30 June. In Malakal PoC the number of diarrhoea cases arriving weekly has doubled and the number of malaria cases has tripled.

Updated: 25/08/2015. Next update 01/09/2015.

Afghanistan Country Analysis

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

22 August: A suicide attack on a NATO convoy killed at least 12 people, and injured at least 67 (New York Times).
 

KEY CONCERNS

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

- It is expected that the number of displaced people in 2015 will exceed that of 2014, and that IDPs and returnees from Pakistan won't have access to enough humanitarian assistance (FEWSNET, 01/08/2015).

- As of 7 August, the number of reported civilian casualties from complex and suicide attacks launched by anti-government elements was 1,523, including 282 dead and 1,241 injured, almost double compared to the same period in 2014 (UNAMA, 11/08/2015).

- 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).

- 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.

Politics and Security
Political Instability

Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah were sworn in as Afghanistan’s President and Prime Minister, respectively, in September 2014 (Reuters, 29/09/2014). Rival presidential candidates in disputed elections, they have been 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 with 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).

Conflict Developments

Afghan officials and Taliban met in Islamabad in Pakistan on 8 July and agreed to meet again on 31 July, but the confirmation of Taliban leader Mullah Omar’s death in 2013 brought the group to pull out of the talks. Informal talks in recent months have not brought any breakthrough (AFP, 24/07/2015; 08/07/2015; The Telegraph, 30/07/2015).  On 30 July, the Taliban communicated that Mullah Akhtar Mansour had been appointed leader (BBC, 30/07/2015). Mansour is considered to be in favour of peace talks, but some factions are opposed (The Telegraph, 30/07/2015). On 13 August, Ayman al-Zawahiri, leader of Al Qaeda, reportedly delivered an audio message containing his pledge of allegiance to the Taliban’s newly elected leader (The Guardian, 13/08/2015).

At 8 August, 1,523 civilian casualties (282 dead, 1,241 injured) have been reported so far in 2015, specifically from complex and suicide attacks launched by anti-government elements — almost double compared to the same period in 2014 (UNAMA, 11/08/2015). The total reported number of conflict-related casualties so far in 2015 was 4,921 (1,592 dead, 3,329 injured), 90% of them civilians (UNAMA, 05/08/2015). 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).

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: On 22 August, a suicide attack on a NATO convoy killed at least 12 people, and injured at least 67 (New York Times, 22/08/2015). On 10 August, at least five people were killed and 16 injured by a suicide bomb at the first checkpoint on the road toward the airport (BBC, 10/08/2015). On 7 August, at least 44 people were killed and hundreds injured by three attacks in Kabul, following the change of leadership in the Taliban movement. A truck bomb killed 15 and wounded 240, then 20 Afghan police cadets were killed and hundreds were wounded by a bomb at the police academy in a separate attack. Later in the day a NATO military base near the airport was attacked and an international service member was killed, together with eight Afghan contractors. Ten local security guards were injured (ABC News, 07/08/2015). The number of civilian casualties caused by the attacks of 7 August is the highest ever reported since the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) began recording such data in 2009 (UNAMA, 08/08/2015).

Kunduz: On 8 August, a bomb attack killed at least 29 people in Khanabad district (BBC, 09/08/2015). 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).

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: On August 8, six people were killed and 24 were injured by a truck-bomb at a police compound in Pul-i-Alam, Logar province (Reuters, 06/08/2015). Hundreds of Taliban insurgents attacked and conquered the administrative headquarters in Kohistanat district in Sari Pul province, north Afghanistan (Vice News, 28/07/2015). 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).

Stakeholders

Taliban

Remote parts of southern and southeastern Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan, remain under Taliban control. The group as 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, comprising some 6,800 US troops and more than 6,300 soldiers from other member states as of June 2015. The focus of the mission is on supporting Afghan forces’ fight against the Taliban, along with US counter-terrorism operations (Reuters, 01/01/2015; NATO 06/2015).

Natural Disasters

Since 1 July, 33 disaster events triggered by natural hazards were reported in 18 provinces, with around 17,700 individuals affected (IOM & USAID, 01/08/2015). 107,451 people have been 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).

Floods

Floods in July affected several areas of Afghanistan. Many households in remote districts of Badakhshan province were impacted and river water-flows, due to river bank erosion, caused the displacement of around 3,830 people. Floods also damaged the roads, agricultural land and irrigation canals of 1,297 families (around 9,470 people). In the north of the country the Amu Darya river overflowed, causing severe flooding that damaged cultivable land, houses and irrigation canals. In the Nangarhar, Kunar, Laghman, and Nuristan provinces, in eastern Afghanistan, more than 200 hectares of agriculture land and 10 irrigation canals were washed out by floods.  (Food Security Cluster, 06/08/2015).

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, 220,430 in the west, and 169,960 in the centre. It is expected that the number of people displaced in 2015 will exceed that of 2014, and IDPs and returnees from Pakistan will not have access to enough humanitarian assistance (FEWSNET, 01/08/2015). 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). As of 25 July, over 8,900 people were displaced in Kunar, Nuristan, and Nangarhar, by ongoing clashes between Daesh fighters and Taliban (Food Security Cluster, 06/08/2015). At 8 August, 103,000 people have been displaced by the conflict so far in 2015, an increase of 43% compared to the same period in 2014 (OCHA, 18/08/2015).

Refugees and asylum seekers

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 (UNHCR, 15/06/2015). Between June 2014 and 23 August 2015, over 200,000 people resettled themselves in Gurbuz district, in Khost Province (UN, 23/08/2015).

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).

Refugee Returnees

At 18 August there are 319,818 returnees from Iran and Pakistan.

43,695 refugee returnees from Pakistan were registered in the first half of 2015, compared to 9,323 during the same period of 2014. Around 73,000 undocumented Afghans returned from Pakistan in the first half of 2015 (OCHA, 18/08/2015). 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). The eastern region hosts almost 40% of undocumented returnees (Food Security Cluster, 31/07/2015).

30–40% of the 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).

Refugees from Afghanistan in other countries

Some 2.6 million Afghan refugees remain in neighbouring countries, including 1.5 million in Pakistan (UN, 29/06/2015). In 2014, the number of Afghans seeking asylum in foreign countries grew 65% compared to the previous year (AFP, 17/08/2015).  32,414 Afghans have entered Greece as asylum seekers so far in 2015 (IOM, 20/08/2015).

Humanitarian Access

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). 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).

Access of relief actors to affected populations

Since the beginning of the year, as of 17 August, 33 Aid Workers were reported to have been victims of attacks in the country (Aid Workers Security, 17/08/2015). Some 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 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).

Access of affected populations to assistance

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 and physical constraints

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).

Food Security and Livelihoods

Approximately eight million people are food insecure, including 2.1 million severely, according to a recent vulnerability assessment (USAID, 02/07/2015). Some households suffering major crop losses and most IDPs displaced by recent floods are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) (FEWSNET, 01/08/2015). In the northern Balkh, Faryab, Samangan and Saripul provinces, 80,654 people are in IPC Phases 3 and 4 (Crisis and Emergency) (Food Security Cluster, 06/08/2015). An estimated 500,000 to 990,000 people will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food security or worse by November 2015 (FEWSNET, 22/07/2015).

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). Below-average precipitation and high temperatures have made pasture conditions worse than normal, impacting pastoral livelihoods (FEWSNET, 01/08/2015).

Food availability

Severe food gaps are reported in fourteen villages of Arghanjkhah district of Badakhshan, affecting 17,940 people (Food Security Cluster/USAID, 14/07/2015). The 2015 wheat harvest is expected to be better than the last two years, except in Ghazni, Bamyan, Daikundy, Kandahar, Hilamand, Zabul, Uruzgan, Paktya, Paktika and Khost (FAO, 03/07/2015; FEWSNET/WFP, 07/06/2015).

Health
Healthcare availability and access

There is a shortage of trained surgeons, anaesthetists, and trauma capacity in conflict-affected areas (OCHA, 25/11/2014).

Maternal health

Nearly 80% of maternal and reproductive health needs are unmet (WHO, 10/12/2014).

Disease outbreaks

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). As of 31 July, three patients with CCHF were receiving care at the Hayatabad Medical Complex; on 1 August one of them died (HealthMap, 01/08/2015).

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). So far, 12 confirmed outbreaks have occurred in 2015, according to the Afghan Ministry of Public Health (SalamWatandar, 25/07/2015).

Polio

Seven cases of wild polio have been recorded so far in 2015, compared to eight over the same period in 2014 (GPEI, 19/08/2015). 28 cases were reported altogether 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).

Tuberculosis

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).

Mental Health

Women have reduced access to education, health and livelihood activities and face significant unmet mental health needs (NRC, 23/03/2015).

Nutrition

Over 100,000 children under‑five die each year, 48,000 because of malnutrition, which also accounts for an estimated 45% of all child deaths in refugee and IDP camps (Government, 04/08/2015; UNICEF, 21/01/2015). Nearly 517,600 children suffer from SAM (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).

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 and NFIs

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 particularly have reduced access to education, health, and livelihood opportunities (NRC, 23/03/2015).

Shelter

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

Education
Access and learning environment

In provinces most affected by fighting, schools have closed over the fear that students might get caught in crossfire. In northern Baghlan at least 18 schools were closed in May (Reuters, 31/05/2015). As of 24 July, over 100 education facilities were reported closed in Helmand due to security threats (Tolonews, 24/07/2015).

Teaching and learning

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). Refugees have language barriers (UNHCR, 31/05/2015).

Protection

Afghan local police have 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). In the first six months of 2015 UNAMA reported a 23% increase in the casualties among women and a 13% increase in the casualties among children, compared to the previous year (OCHA, 31/07/2015).

Mines and ERW

559km2 (4,321 hazardous areas) are contaminated by minefields and explosive remnants of war (ERW). In 2015, a monthly average of 103 total casualties from mines, IEDs, and ERW are reported (UNMAS/MAPA, 30/06/2015).

Gender

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

Children

40 reports of sexual violence against children, involving in all 27 boys and 24 girls, were registered by UNAMA between September 2010 and December 2014 (UNAMA, 24/08/2015).

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). Between September 2010 and December 2014, 2,302 children were killed and 5,047 wounded. In the same period, 560 children were recruited for support and combat roles (UNAMA, 24/08/2015). Children have also been used as suicide bombers by armed groups (UNSC, 15/05/2015). Between September 2010 and December 2014, 20 boys were killed carrying out suicide attacks (UNAMA, 24/08/2015).

Updated: 24/08/2015