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Snapshot 30 September – 6 October 2015

Afghanistan: The humanitarian situation in Kunduz is deteriorating as fighting for control of the city continues. Aid organisations have withdrawn, after a Médecins Sans Frontières hospital was bombed in an airstrike, killing 22 and injuring 37.

Burundi: At least eight civilians were killed in Bujumbura over the weekend as political violence persists, and people continue to flee. Some 128,000 people are reliant on food assistance: in some of the areas affected by insecurity, food prices are up to 95% higher than average.

DRC: The number of cholera cases has been increasing rapidly since mid-August: 693 new cases reported over 7–13 September, four times the number reported in the last week of August. 800 new cholera cases have been reported in Kindu health zone in Maniema since mid-September (14-23 September). Katanga’s measles epidemic persists, with 1,200 new cases reported 21–27 September.

Nigeria: Despite advances by the military in northeastern Nigeria, Boko Haram has carried out several attacks in Borno’s capital Maiduguri and in Adamawa over the past week; the number of casualties is unknown. Boko Haram has also claimed responsibility for bomb blasts on the outskirts of Abuja, which killed 18 people and injured 41.  

Updated: 06/10/2015. Next update 13/10/2015.

Afghanistan Country Analysis


5 October: Taliban forces have reportedly launched an offensive on Maimana, capital of Faryab province (International Business Times).

5 October: Despite claims of the Afghan forces to have retaken Kunduz, several media reports indicate that the Taliban is still in control of the city (International Business Times).

3 October: A hospital run by MSF was hit by an aerial strike in Kunduz, conducted by US forces engaged in the battle for retaking the town from the Taliban. At least 19 people died, including 12 MSF staff and seven patients. At least 37 were injured (CNN).

1 October: Afghan forces reported to have taken back control of Kunduz (CNN).

29 September: When taking control of Kunduz the Taliban has reportedly targeted media workers, occupying the headquarters of some news agencies. Several media workers are missing. The Taliban has also torched and destroyed equipment (RSF).


- As of July 2015, at least 847,872 people are reported to be displaced because of conflict in Afghanistan (IDMC, 07/2015).

- 7.4 million in need of humanitarian aid in 2015 (IOM, 31/08/2015).

- 5.9% of people (1.5 million) report severe food insecurity compared to 4.7% in 2014. Over 200,000 are in immediate need of food assistance (FAO, 10/09/2015).

- 282 civilians were killed and 1,241 injured from complex and suicide attacks by anti-government forces in 2015, almost double the same period in 2014 (UNAMA, 11/08/2015).


Natural disasters and armed conflicts in Afghanistan have caused humanitarian crisis. Assistance needs include food, healthcare, and protection. 7.4 million are reported to be in need of humanitarian assistance as of 31 August 2015 (IOM, 31/08/2015). 

The Afghan Government faces internal and external challenges to its capacity, legitimacy, and stability. The security environment is highly volatile and has deteriorated since the end of the ISAF mission and the withdrawal of most international forces. The outflow of people from Afghanistan has significantly increased in 2015, despite calls from the Government to stay and contribute to the reconstruction of the country.
Politics and security

After the end of ISAF mission on December 2014, only around 12,000 NATO personnel remained in Afghanistan to provide training and equipment to the Afghan security forces. Concerns have been raised regarding the capacity of Afghan forces to keep the country secure; a steep surge in violent attacks was recorded in the first months of 2015, making it the most violent year since the beginning of ISAF in 2001 (Brookings, 26/05/2015; Talk Radio News Service, 22/06/2015).

Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have been tense since the 1970s when Afghanistan allegedly started supporting opposition groups in Pakistani territory (Journal of Political Studies, 2015). The most recent deterioration in the relationship occurred at the beginning of September, with Afghanistan accusing Pakistan of organising insurgent attacks in Afghanistan (The Tribune, 03/09/2015).

Political instability

President Ashraf Ghani and Prime Minister Abdullah Abdullah were sworn in 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, and the current parliament’s mandate has been extended until the next vote (Reuters, 19/06/2015; local media, 01/04/2015). In September, President Ghani promised that a date would be set in the “immediate future” (1tvnews Afghanistan, 05/09/2015; Tolo News 17/09/2015).

Conflict developments

Afghan officials and Taliban met in Islamabad, Pakistan, on 8 July for a first round of peace-talks (AFP, 08/07/2015). On 29 July, representatives of the Afghan government declared that Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban, had died in 2013 (Al Jazeera, 29/07/2015). After the Taliban confirmed this, they pulled out of the peace talks, likely to deal with uncertainty about new leadership. There has been no  breakthrough (AFP, 24/07/2015; The Telegraph, 30/07/2015; The Age, 31/07/2015). The current Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour is considered to be in favour of peace talks, although some factions remain opposed  (BBC, 30/07/2015; The Telegraph, 30/07/2015). On 13 August, Ayman al Zawahiri, leader of Al Qaeda, reportedly delivered an audio message pledging allegiance to Mansour (The Guardian, 13/08/2015).

As of the beginning of August, 1,523 civilian casualties (282 dead, 1,241 injured) have been reported in 2015, specifically from complex and suicide attacks launched by anti-government elements – almost double  the same period in 2014 (UNAMA, 11/08/2015). The total reported number of conflict-related casualties in 2015 is 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, although intense fighting between Afghan forces, the Taliban, and other anti-government groups has also been 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). Remote parts of southern and southeastern Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan, remain under Taliban control. The Taliban is increasingly financed by criminal enterprises including heroin laboratories, illegal mining, and kidnapping (UNSC, 02/02/2015).

On 4 October, MSF released a declaration condemning the air-strike that hit its hospital, leaving at least 19 dead and 37 wounded. The NGO considered the event a war crime and called for an independent inquiry to be performed by a neutral international entity. The commander of the US forces in Afghanistan, General John Campbell, has stated they were called in to provide air support to Afghan forces under attack from the Taliban (MSF, 05/10/2015; CNN, 05/10/2015; BBC, 05/10/15).

Balkh: On 5 September, 13 people belonging to the Shi’ite Hazara minority were killed by gunmen in the Zari district of Balkh province (DAWN, 05/09/2015). 12 Hazaras have been kidnapped and four killed in Balkh in the past month (Reuters, 05/09/2015).

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 a checkpoint on the road to the airport (BBC, 10/08/2015).

Kunduz:  On 28 September, Taliban forces stormed and took control of most of the city of Kunduz. It is the first major Afghan city to fall to the Taliban since the war began (Belfast Telegraph, 28/09/2015). On 1 October, Afghan national forces claimed to have taken back the city, however, four days later, media reports indicated that, despite such claims, the Taliban was still in control of the city (Reuters, 05/10/2015; International Business Times, 05/10/2015).

Other incidents: On 27 September, at least nine were killed and dozens injured in a bomb attack during a sports match in Paktika province, close to the Pakistani border (BBC, 28/09/2015). In Nangarhar province, hundreds of insurgents reportedly belonging to IS attacked Afghan forces at a checkpoint in Achin district. At least three Afghan police were killed (VOA, 27/09/2015). On 20 September, one person was killed and three were injured in a bomb attack in the district of Daman, in Kandahar (Afghanistan News, 20/09/2015). The same day, at least 16 civilians were injured by a bomb attack in eastern Kunar province, near a power station, and five civilians were injured in a bomb attack in eastern Saibak, in Samangan province (San Francisco Chronicle 20/09/2015). On 19 September, five police officers were killed by a roadside bomb in Zurmat district of Paktia province (DAWN, 20/09/2015).On 14 September, Taliban fighters stormed a prison in the city of Ghazni, in Ghazni province.  355 prisoners were freed, including 148 who had been charged with national and international security crimes (The Guardian, 14/09/2015).



Despite the reported and confirmed death of Mullah Omar, historical leader of the Taliban, the Taliban seems to have regained strength, especially since ISAF forces withdrew in December 2014. The ultraconservative Islamic force’s activities have expanded from south and southeastern areas to northern provinces, especially Kunduz, Balkh and Faryab (The Telegraph, 30/07/2015; Daily Mail, 28/09/2015).

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). IS was reportedly active in northern areas of Afghanistan, especially on the border with Turkmenistan (Global Research, 16/06/2015). IS launched its first offensive against Afghan forces on 27 September, attacking a checkpoint in Nangarhar province (The Tribune, 28/09/2015).

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 (Reuters, 01/01/2015). The headquarters of the mission are in Kabul, operating from the Kabul/Bagram hub. Four other bases of the mission are in Mazar-e Sharif, Herat, Kandahar, and Laghman (Nato, 27/02/2015). The focus of the mission is on supporting Afghan forces’ fight against the Taliban, along with US counter-terrorism operations (NATO 06/2015).

Afghan National Security Forces

The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are composed of around 350,000 personnel, including soldiers, police, and air forces personnel.

Pro-government militias

In Khanabad district, Kunduz province, the membership of U.S. funded pro-government militias, also knowns as Afghan local police, has grown to 3,000 this year, 1,000 more than last year, according to the district governor Hayatullah Amiri. This militia force was founded with the purpose of mobilizing rural communities against the Taliban. However, in recent months, civilians have reported a rise in abuse by these groups, including extortion, theft, and assault (Daily Mail, 03/06/2015; IRIN, 07/09/2015).

Natural disasters

In 2015, the proportion of households affected by natural disasters has decreased to 6%, from 10% in 2014 (Food Security Cluster, 31/08/2015). As of 31 July, 107,000 people were impacted by natural disasters in 2015, with medium-scale floods and landslides affecting mostly the north, northeast and east of the country (OCHA, 31/07/2015).


As of July 2015, at least 847,872 people are reported to be displaced because of conflict in Afghanistan, with a peak of over 50,000 new displaced in April (IDMC, 07/2015; OCHA, 31/08/2015).


Increasing insecurity has led to a rise in internal displacement. 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 July, 139,000 people were reported to have been displaced because of conflict, only in 2015, with a surge in Kunduz and Helmand, due to continued clashes. The number of IDPs could be even higher, including remote areas made inaccessible by ongoing violence (OCHA, 31/07/2015). By the end of 2015, an additional 324,000 are estimated to become displaced because of conflict (FEWSNET, 30/09/2015).

Displacement in 2015 is expected to exceed 2014 numbers, 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).

Refugees and asylum seekers

Displacement from Pakistan to Afghanistan’s Khost and Paktika provinces has been ongoing since mid-June 2014 and the beginning of military operations in Pakistan’s FATA region. 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, particularly in terms of food, shelter, and education (UNHCR, 15/06/2015). Between June 2014 and 23 August 2015, over 200,000 Pakistani resettled in Gurbuz district, in Khost province, after having been displaced by the military operations conducted by the Pakistani government in North Waziristan (UNFPA, 23/08/2015).

Refugee returnees

As of 1 September, since January 2015, around 90,000 Afghan refugees have been forced to return from Pakistan due to lack of documentation. This is almost six times the number of returnees reported in the same period of 2014 (RFERL, 30/08/2015). Numbers began to rise after security incidents in Pakistan, particularly the December 2014 Taliban attack in Peshawar. Some 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 them 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).

Refugees from Afghanistan in other countries

At the end of August, around 2.5 million Afghan refugees are reported to be in Pakistan. Over 1 million of these are unregistered (RFE/RL, 30/08/2015). In Sindh, only 67,000 of an estimated one million Afghan refugees are registered (DAWN, 31/08/2015).

Some Afghan refugees have reported harassment in Pakistan, and not feeling any safer than in Afghanistan. The deterioration in relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan is being highlighted by the reported increase in issues with Afghan refugees (Thomson Reuters Foundation, 03/09/2015). In August, the government of Afghanistan requested that Pakistan allow 1.5 million registered Afghan refugees to stay on its territory for another two years (ALHASAN, 24/08/2015).

Tens of thousands of Afghan refugees have crossed into Europe in 2015, most via Greece, where 32,414 Afghan asylum seekers are reported to have entered in 2015 (IOM, 20/08/2015). As of 16 September, Afghans were reported to make up 19% of more than 90,000 refugees who have reached Greek islands of Greece since 1 September (UNHCR, 16/09/2015).

As of 24 September, an estimated 10,000 Afghans are reported to be applying for passports each day. As of 7 September, the daily average was 7,000. In Afghanistan the passport is used primarily as a document for travel (VOA, 24/09/2015; 07/09/2015).

Humanitarian 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).

Access of relief actors to affected populations

On 3 October, a hospital run by MSF was hit by an aerial strike in Kunduz. At least 19 people died, including 12 MSF staff and seven patients. At least 37 were injured. On 5 October, the commander of the US forces in Afghanistan stated they had been called in to support Afghan forces under attack from the Taliban. (Reuters, 05/10/2015; BBC, 05/10/2015).

Since the beginning of the year, as of 17 August, 33 aid workers were reported to have been victims of attacks in the country: 20 national aid workers were killed, two were wounded, and seven were kidnapped. Four international aid workers have also been kidnapped in 2015 (Aid Workers Security Database, 17/08/2015).  In 2014, 57 aid workers were killed in Afghanistan (Reuters, 17/08/2015).

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). Some reports indicate that the Taliban accessed offices of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) in Kunduz while taking the city. They have reportedly been able to gather access to addresses, phone numbers and photos of NGO staff, security operators and government officials (Amnesty International, 01/10/2015).

Food security and livelihoods

As of September 2015, 5.9% of people (1.5 million) report severe food insecurity, compared to 4.7% in 2014. 7.3 million people are moderately food insecure (FAO, 10/09/2015). 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 Crisis and Emergency (IPC Phases 3 and 4) (Food Security Cluster, 06/08/2015). The food security situation for IDPs is also worsening, with around 200,000 people in need of immediate assistance (FAO, 10/09/2015). The newly displaced people, which will likely reach  324,000 by the end of 2015, are projected to be in Crisis in the months up to March 2016 (FEWSNET, 30/09/2015).

A May-June seasonal food security assessment indicated worsening food security among urban households. 13% of households indicated food insecurity as a primary issue, compared to 3% in 2014 (Food Security Cluster, 31/08/2015). Additionally, female-headed households are 50% more likely to be food insecure than others, due largely to lower incomes and consequent poorer diet (FAO, 10/09/2015).

An estimated 500,000–990,000 people will be in Crisis food security or worse by November 2015 (FEWSNET, 22/07/2015).

Food availability

Severe food gaps are reported in 14 villages in 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).

Food access

As of 22 September, the prices for wheat and rice are reported to be generally lower than last year, but higher than the last 5-year average (WFP, 22/09/2015).


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


The increase in insecurity and civilian casualties have impacted the work of health organizations and NGOs. High incidence of trauma, caused by widespread conflict, is making specialized trauma-care essential, especially for the remotest and most inaccessible areas of the country. Gaps in health services include lack of maternal care, problems in the delivery of treatment to victims of GBV (OCHA, 31/07/2015). On 28 September, hundreds of wounded have been brought to trauma care centres, after the offensive with which the Taliban took control of the city. Health organizations reported to be working non-stop to provide specialized trauma care to large numbers of people in critical conditions, while the Taliban have seized a 200-bed hospital in the city (MSF, 28/09/2015; Reuters, 28/09/2015).

Healthcare availability and access

There is a shortage of trained surgeons, anaesthetists, and trauma capacity in conflict-affected areas (OCHA, 25/11/2014). Only 19% of the districts affected by conflict are reported to have access to specialized trauma-care centres (OCHA, 31/07/2015).

Maternal health

Maternal mortality remains very high, with an average of 400 deaths per 100,000 live births. No decrease was registered since 2013 (WHO, 28/08/2015, World Bank Data, 2014). Only 4% of births are attended by skilled birth attendands (OCHA, 31/07/2015).

Mental health

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


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). The Afghan Ministry of Public Health has confirmed 12 outbreaks so far in 2015 (SalamWatandar, 25/07/2015). In 2014, the measles vaccination coverage of children between 12 and 23 months of age was 66%; in 2013 it was 60% (World Bank, 2014).


In the week between 22 and 28 August, a new case of polio was confirmed in the Achin district of Nangarhar (GPEI, 26/08/2015). Eight cases have been recorded so far in 2015, as many as in the same period in 2014 (GPEI, 31/08/2015). 28 cases were reported altogether in 2014, mostly in conflict-affected areas (WHO, 26/04/2015).


As of 2015, Afghanistan has still a very high Tuberculosis burden (Medical Xpress, 28/09/2015). In 2013, the incidence of Tuberculosis was 189 per 100,000 people (World Bank Data 2014).


As of 21 September 2015, 1.2 million children are reported to be acutely malnourished (IMMAP, 21/09/2015). 48,000 children under five die of malnutrition each year (Government, 04/08/2015).

Assessments performed in Golan refugee camp in Khost province found a GAM rate of 12.3% and 3.8% SAM.  In the province of Paktika, a SMART survey in May 2015 showed 7.8% GAM and 0.8% SAM in five districts among displaced households (FEWSNET, 31/08/2015).


In Afghanistan, only 27% of the population is reported to have access to an improved water source. The percentage goes down to 20% in rural areas, representing the lowest level in the world. Only 5% of the people nationwide, and 1% in rural areas, have access to improved sanitation facilities (ATN News, 16/09/2015).

Shelter and NFIs

Shelter is one of the main need identified among IDPs in Faryab, and Kabul provinces, with people living in makeshift shelters, and experiencing overcrowding (UNHCR, 31/07/2015).


In Afghanistan education has reportedly improved since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, with enrolment rates that are over 80% as of September 2015, from less than 40% in 2001. However, a large number of children still cannot access education and significant obstacles remain in terms of gender equality (UNHCR, 15/09/2015).

Access and learning environment

Schools have closed because of fighting and insecurity. In northern Baghlan at least 18 schools were closed in May and over 100 educational facilities were reported closed in Helmand at 24 July (Reuters, 31/05/2015; Tolonews, 24/07/2015). As of 2 September, 30 schools are reported to be closed in Baghlan as intense fighting continues, with the Afghan national forces trying to reclaim strategic areas in Faryab (Salamwatandar, 02/09/2015).


UNAMA reported a 23% increase in casualties among women and a 13% increase among children over the first half of 2015, compared to the same period in 2014 (OCHA, 31/07/2015).

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).

During the first three days of Taliban control over Kunduz, from 28 September to 1 October, mass murder, gang rapes and house-to-house searches performed by insurgent squads have been reported (Amnesty International, 01/10/2015).

Mines and ERW

22% of civilian casualties over January-June were caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) (US Ministry of Defense, 04/09/2015). An average of 98 civilians per month are recorded to be victims of mines or ERWs (MAPA, 14/09/2015).

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 is reported (UNMAS/MAPA, 30/06/2015). On 16 September, MAPA reported a decrease in funding that might jeopardize its long-term objective of a mine-free Afghanistan by 2023. As of 16 September, still 4,266 hazardous areas exist in 1,603 communities, over 255 districts of 33 provinces (MAPA, 16/09/2015).


On 3 September, hundreds of schoolgirls had to be admitted to hospital after inhaling a poisonous gas. Officials suspect foul play. This was reportedly the third such incident in the province in the first week of September (Voice of America, 03/09/2015). UNAMA registered 44 cases of sexual violence between January 2014 and January 2015 (UN Security Council, 15/04/2015). Sexual violence is underreported because of resulting social stigma as well as lack of access to Taliban-controlled areas.


40 reports of sexual violence against children, affecting 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). Children have been used as suicide bombers: 20 boys were killed carrying out suicide attacks between September 2010 and December 2014 (UNSC, 15/05/2015; UNAMA, 24/08/2015).

Vulnerable Groups

When taking control of Kunduz the Taliban has reportedly targeted media workers, occupying the headquarters of some news agencies. Several media workers are missing. The Taliban has also torched and destroyed equipment (RSF, 29/09/2015).

Updated: 05/10/2015