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Snapshot 18-24 February 2015

Myanmar: 90,000 people are now reported to have been displaced by continuing violence between government troops and multiple armed groups in Kokang, Shan state. Aid organisations have been subject to attack – seven people were wounded in two separate incidents.  

Kenya: The number of cholera cases has risen in the past week to 644, from 186. The outbreak was declared in Homa Bay, Migori, and Nairobi counties on 13 February. 17 people have died, most in Migori, and there are fears that the outbreak will spread due to the lack of safe drinking water.

Nigeria: 564 cholera cases have been reported in Nigeria since January, with a fatality of rate of 8.3%. There has been a resurgence of cases in Kano and Kaduna states. In Borno state, the Nigerian military claims to have taken back Baga, Monguno, and ten other communities from Boko Haram.

Updated: 24/02/2015. Next update: 03/03/2015

Afghanistan Country Analysis

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

16 February: At least six people were killed and seven others injured in two avalanches in Yamgan district in Badakhshan province (Kuwait News Agency).

 

KEY CONCERNS

- 3,699 civilians killed and 6,849 injured oin 2014, a 22% increase in casualties on 2013; there were 21% and 40% more women and children casualties respectively (UNAMA/UNHCHR, 18/02/2015).

- 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).

 - Displacement from Pakistan to Afghanistan’s Khost and Paktika provinces has been ongoing since mid-June 2014, leading to 298,940 refugees in February; new arrivals are vulnerable, while longer term concerns emerge from protracted displacement (UNHCR, 11/02/2015).

-805,400 IDPs, including 156,200 people displaced by conflict in 2014 (UNHCR, 31/12/2014). 

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

- 517,600 children under five suffer from SAM, and eight provinces show GAM rates above 15%, breaching the emergency threshold (UNICEF, 21/01/2015, 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

The Afghan Parliament rejected 10 of 18 cabinet nominees on 28 January, leaving the country in uncertainty until late March, when the President can introduce new candidates (AFP, 04/02/2015). Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah were sworn in as Afghanistan’s new President and Prime Minister, respectively, on 29 September 2014 (Reuters, 29/09/2014). The pair were rival presidential candidates in disputed elections (AFP, 26/09/2014). 

Peace Talks with the Taliban

Although preliminary contacts between Kabul and the Taliban have been renewed since December, no substantial talks have been launched. On 10 January, Afghanistan joined Pakistan in military operations against militants in both countries (British & Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group, 31/01/2015). 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).

3,699 civilians were killed and 6,849 were injured in 2014, a 22% increase in casualties on 2013; there were 21% more women casualties, and 40% more children. Ground engagements, increasingly in civilian-populated areas, have become the leading cause of civilian casualties, while the mounting use of indiscriminate weapons and IEDs is of concern (UNAMA/UNHCHR, 18/02/2015).

Taliban

The Taliban claimed victory against NATO as it ended its combat mission at the end of 2014, 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 has intensified attacks. They are increasingly financed by criminal enterprises, including heroin laboratories, illegal ruby and emerald mines and kidnapping (UNSC, 02/02/2015).

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).

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 was 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).

Nangarhar: Six people were killed by an IED explosion in Nangarhar on 17 January (UNAMA, 18/01/2015).

Other incidents: At least nine people were killed and 34 wounded in a suicide attack on 29 January in Laghman province (AFP, 29/01/2015). An explosion in Jaghuri district in Ghazni killed eight and injured two on 20 January (AFP, 20/01/2015).

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

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).

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

There were 293 incidents against aid workers in 2014 (OCHA, 31/12/2014, 30/11/2014).

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).

Disasters

At least six people were killed and seven injured in two avalanches in Yamgan district in Badakhshan province on 16 February; access to the area is limited due to the presence of armed groups (Kuwait News Agency, 16/02/2015).

Around 120,000 people were affected by natural hazards in 2014, mainly floods and heavy rainfall in northern and central Afghanistan, 450 killed and 214 injured (IOM, 31/12/2014).

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).

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). 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). Most IDPs in conflict-affected areas are with host families, in rented accommodation or in emergency shelters.

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).

Refugees in Afghanistan

Displacement from Pakistan to Afghanistan’s Khost and Paktika provinces has been ongoing since mid-June 2014. At 10 February, these provinces were hosting nearly 298,940 refugees (42,030 families) from Pakistan. New families arrived in Barmel district in Paktika and Gulan camp in the first week of February, following military operations in North Waziristan; new refugees are more vulnerable due to the winter conditions and persistent conflict (UNHCR, 11/02/2015; 04/02/2015).

Gulan camp in Khost hosts around 8,085 families, but more than 80% of refugees live in host communities, which are often remote and difficult to access, and stretched beyond capacity (UNHCR, 11/02/2015; 03/12/2014). Gurboz district in Khost and Barmel in Paktika have the highest number of refugees, with 11,410 and 10,215 families, respectively.

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

Returns of undocumented Afghans from Pakistan have increased following security incidents in the country, particularly the December Taliban attack in Peshawar. By 11 February, 32,000 undocumented Afghans had spontaneously returned in 2015, and 2,000 had been deported through the Torkham border. This is a 130% increase in returns and deportations on the whole of 2014. 37% have settled in Nangarhar province (IOM, 13/02/2015).

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

At least 3.7 million Afghans are food insecure in 187 districts (USAID/Government, 01/02/2015). Households are expected to remain Minimal through April, except for Badghis province and parts of northeastern Afghanistan. IDPs inaccessible to humanitarian agencies, particularly in insecure districts in Helmand, are in Crisis, having lost much of their access to income (FEWSNET, 30/11/2014, 01/11/2014). Households in Badghis province will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through March, and at least 20% will move to Crisis from April, due to a below-average 2014 harvest and lack of dietary diversity during the lean season. Pakistani refugees and host families in Khost and Paktika provinces are Stressed, but only thanks to continued humanitarian assistance (FEWSNET, 11/02/2015).

Displaced households or otherwise affected by conflict and natural disasters will continue to require assistance (FEWSNET, 31/12/2014). 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

2014 wheat production was 64% lower than 2013, and January 2015 wheat grain and flour prices have increased 12% on average compared to 2014, leading to excess sales of livestock; Badghis province is most affected (FEWSNET, 11/02/2015). Conflict in Helmand in 2014 hampered farmers’ ability to harvest their crops (FEWSNET, 01/11/2014).

Lack of snow in February and March could affect irrigated production, particularly for crops harvested in September and October and those planted between September and December (FEWSNET, 11/02/2015).

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).

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).

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).

Nutrition

According to the National Nutrition Survey, 517,596 children suffer from SAM (UNICEF, 21/01/2015). 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). An estimated 45% of all child deaths in refugee and IDP camps are linked to malnutrition (UNICEF, 21/01/2015).

There is a risk to the nutrition of Pakistani refugees and host communities in Khost and Paktika, linked to common animal diseases present in these areas, reducing the availability of meat and milk products (FEWSNET, 11/02/2015).     

Polio

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

WASH

1.9 million Afghans are in need of better access to safe WASH facilities (UNICEF, 21/01/2015). WASH conditions remain public health concerns in Khost and Paktika (FEWSNET, 11/02/2015). 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).

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).

Around 3.5 million (43%) school-aged children in Afghanistan are out of school and 53% of school-aged children are illiterate (38% among males, and 68% among females). Only 27% of teachers are qualified to teach, with strong regional variations (UNFPA, 19/12/2015).

Protection
Gender and Gender-based Violence

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

In Afghanistan, up to 87% of women have experienced at least one form of physical, sexual, or psychological violence, or forced marriage (UNFPA, 19/12/2014).

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).

Updated, 23/02/2015

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