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Snapshot 10–16 December

Iraq: 700,000 IDPs, mostly in Dahuk and Anbar governorates, are living in shelters that are not adapted for winter temperatures. 945,000 IDPs are in dire need of kerosene for heating.

Afghanistan: Kabul has been hit by at least 12 suicide attacks since early November, with more attacks also carried out elsewhere, fuelling concerns about the protection of civilians.

Philippines: 3.8 million people across nine regions have been affected by Typhoon Hagupit. Nearly 157,000 are in evacuation centres, 38,000 homes have been destroyed. Emergency preparedness helped mitigate the impact of the typhoon. 

Updated: 16/12/2014. Next update: 06/01/2015

Afghanistan Country Analysis

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

13 December: Taliban insurgents killed at least 20 people in a series of gun and suicide attacks in Kabul and Helmand, including 12 mine clearance workers (AFP).

12 December: Two ISAF soldiers were killed in a Taliban attack in eastern Afghanistan (CNN).

11 December: Taliban suicide attacks targeting a bus carrying Afghan troops and a French cultural centre killed seven and wounded another seven in Kabul (AFP).

 

KEY CONCERNS

- Nearly 8,000 civilians killed or injured over January-October (OCHA, 25/11/2014). 5,456 security-related incidents recorded 1 June–15 August, a 10.7% increase on 2013 (UN, 09/09/2014).

- 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 283,590 Pakistani refugees in Khost and Paktika provinces need food, WASH, shelter, winterisation preparation and NFIs (UNHCR, 03/12/2014).

- 16,266 returnees in 2014 and 782,162 IDPs including 131,367 people displaced by conflict in 2014 (UNHCR, 30/11/2014). 

- 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 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 (UNHCR, 30/09/2014). Conflict was ongoing in Kandarhar, Helmand, and Farhah provinces end November (UNHCR, 30/11/2014).

7,965 civilians were killed or injured by conflict between January and September, 22% children (OCHA, 25/11/2014). Mortars and rockets caused almost 1,000 civilian casualties, a 160% increase on 2013 (UNAMA, 04/07/2014).

International Military Presence

NATO troops officially handed over security in Helmand to Afghan troops on 26 October (Le Monde, 26/10/2014). There are currently about 41,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak of 130,000 in 2012 (AFP, 30/09/2014).  

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 is widespread concern regarding the capacity of the 352,000 Afghan security forces to deal with intensified Taliban attacks as international forces slowly withdraw.

Taliban

On 2 October, Taliban leader Mullah Omar claimed victory against NATO and urged Taliban fighters to continue their fight against the Afghan Government (British Agencies Afghanistan Group, 05/11/2014). Remote parts of southern and south eastern Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan, remain under Taliban control. Taliban numbers have increased by 15% since the beginning of 2013, as the group intensifies attacks in the wake of NATO troop withdrawal.

Conflict Developments and Incidents

Two ISAF soldiers were killed in a Taliban attack in eastern Afghanistan on 12 December (CNN, 12/12/2014). A suicide attack targeting police officials in Burka district, Baghlan province, killed at least nine people and injured 18 on 1 December (AFP, 01/12/2014).

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).

Three Taliban bombings in Logar and Jalalabad on 1 and 10 November killed at least 19 security personnel and wounded 20 civilians (Radio Liberty, 01/11/2014).

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).

Kabul: The capital has been hit by at least 12 suicide attacks since early November, mainly targeting foreigners (AFP, 13/12/2014). A Taliban suicide blast killed seven soldiers on 13 December in Kabul and injured 18, while a senior court official was assassinated the same day (AFP, 13/12/2014). Two Taliban suicide attacks targeting a bus carrying Afghan troops and a French cultural centre in Kabul on 11 December killed at least seven people and wounded another seven (AFP, 11/12/2014).

In October, Kabul witnessed six suicide attacks, two roadside bomb explosions, and two rocket attacks, while southern and eastern provinces saw increased Taliban activity and assassinations of district officials.

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 is a significant challenge (UNHCR, 30/11/2014).

Movement restrictions are increasingly being applied to aid workers. Access continues to present challenges to humanitarian actors in Helmand and 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

A Taliban attack killed 12 mine clearance workers from the Sterling Demining Afghanistan (SDA), an international demining company and implementing partner of the Mine Action Programme of Afghanistan, in Helmand on 13 December (AFP, 13/12/2014).

Eight aid workers were killed and 12 abducted in 23 incidents involving aid workers in November, compared to four killed and 13 abducted in October (OCHA, 30/11/2014). 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

Around 115,155 people were affected by natural hazards in between January and August, mainly by floods and heavy rainfall in northern and central Afghanistan (IOM, 01/12/2014).

Displacement
IDPs

At end November, there were nearly 782,162 profiled IDPs in Afghanistan, mainly in southern, western, and eastern areas, including 131,367 people displaced by conflict in 2014 (UNHCR, 30/11/2014).  

3,363 IDPs were displaced in Ghazni in November, 2,643 in Maidan Wardak, 2,167 in Ghor and 1,959 in Helmand, an increase on September numbers, except for Helmand; priority needs are for food, NFIs, shelter and cash grants (UNHCR, 30/11/2014).

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). Displaced households living in IDP camps have started leaving the camps where shelters are inadequate for the coming winter (FEWSNET, 01/11/2014). Most IDPs in conflict-affected areas are with host families, in rented accommodation or in emergency shelters.

Flood-related displacement: As of October, 3,805 houses remain completely destroyed in the north by floods earlier in the year (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 30 November, nearly 283,590 refugees (37,813 families) from North Waziristan had arrived in Afghanistan’s Khost (27,403 families) and Paktika (10,410) provinces since mid-June (UNHCR, 03/12/2014).

Nearly 181,000 people (27,000 families) are in need of humanitarian assistance (OCHA, 30/10/2014). Gulan camp in Khost hosts around 4,927 families, including 400 new refugee families from Datta Khel in North Waziristan following aerial bombardments, but more than 80% of refugees live in host communities, which are often remote and difficult to access, and stretched beyond capacity (UNHCR, 03/12/2014, 19/11/2014; OCHA, 15/10/2014). Gurboz and Bermei districts have the highest number of refugees, with 9,000 and 7,650 families respectively (OCHA, 25/11/2014).

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).

Pakistani refugees are not expected to return to their country before March or April, due to infrastructure destruction, winter, and reduced livelihood opportunities (UNHCR, 29/10/2014).

Kabul: As of 5 November, 32,073 people were in 53 informal settlements in the capital (OCHA, 11/11/2014). The most populated are Charahi Qamber (4,570 individuals), Tape Qasaba (2,533) and Puli Campany (2,166) (Danish Refugee Council, 20/10/2014).

Returnees

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 (23.4% of the population) are severely food insecure (IPC Phase 3 or higher). Badakhshan is the only province classified in Emergency (IPC Phase 4); 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). 

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 received assistance. Displaced households from North Waziristan Agency in Khost and Paktika provinces will move from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) if additional food and NFI are not delivered beyond November 2014 (FEWSNET, 01/11/2014).

Households affected by April-June floods in the north may enter Crisis phase if they do not receive additional humanitarian assistance October–December (FEWSNET, 30/09/2014).

Below-average precipitation in Badghis province during March and April and cold weather during crop vegetative stage led to a below-average harvest. Poor households will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from November through March 2015 (FEWSNET, 01/11/2014).

Due to a funding shortfall, WFP has been able to pre-position only 60% of food assistance for an estimated 830,000 people ahead of the winter this year (OCHA, 30/10/2014). 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).

An estimated 30,000 hectares of agriculture land and perennial crops have been affected by flooding this year (OCHA 15/05/2014). During recent conflicts in Helmand province, locals reported that markets did not function for several days, and farmers had difficulties harvesting 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

Pneumonia and acute respiratory infections are major concerns for the upcoming winter season as many provinces and districts face extremely cold weather. Access to health facilities may also be hampered (WHO, 03/11/2014).

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). In October, there were two incidents involving NGO-run health facilities, including the abduction of a midwife and other clinic staff (OCHA, 31/10/2014). 

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 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).

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

As of 26 November, 21 polio cases have been confirmed in 2014, mostly in conflict-affected areas, compared to nine in 2013 (Global Polio Eradication Initiative, 26/11/2014). 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).

WASH

Sanitation, water quality and hygiene remain public health concerns in Khost and Paktika (WHO, 03/11/2014). 128,327 individuals (29,200 refugees and 98,937 individuals in the host community) in Khost need WASH assistance; priority district targets for emergency WASH response are Gurbuz, Khost, Center/Lakan, Mandozayi, Terezayi and Spera in Khost, and Barmal and Urgun in Paktika (UNHCR, 29/10/2014).

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).

Shelter and NFIs

Two million people are living higher than 2,000m in Afghanistan, including 244,200 new refugees in Khost and Paktika, 32,000 displaced in Kabul informal settlements and 2,300 recently displaced by conflict, leaving them exposed to winter conditions. 423,300 under-five children and 253,920 people over 55, and 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).

Protection

Around 1.7 million people need 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: 15/12/2014

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