Crisis Severity The severity score from 1 to 5 is based on 31 indicators aggregated into 3 pillars (impact, conditions, and complexity)4.50 Very lowVery high 5
Impact This measures the impact of the crisis itself, in terms of the scope of its geographical, and human effects.4.90 Very lowVery high 5
Humanitarian Conditions This measures the conditions and status of the people affected, including info about the distribution of severity.4.50 Very lowVery high 5
Complexity This measures the complexity of the crisis, in terms of factors that affect its mitigation or resolution.4.20 Very lowVery high 5
Access Constraints This measures the level of humanitarian access constraints.4.0No constraintsExtreme constraints
Afghanistan is affected by insecurity, infrastructure decay, and economic stagnation caused by decades of conflict, recurring natural hazards, and protracted and multiple displacement.
In recent years, the conflict between Afghan Security Forces, the Taliban, and the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) has intensified. Violent attacks, armed clashes, and aerial and ground engagements have severely impacted civilian infrastructure, including schools, hospitals, and roads. Since 2014, there have been more than 10,000 civilian deaths and injuries per year in Afghanistan, with those living in the provinces of Kabul, Nangarhar, and Helmand at highest risk.?
Afghanistan is extremely prone to natural disasters, including earthquakes, droughts, and floods. Seasonal flooding in early 2019 affected 300,000 people and drought in 2018-2019 devastated the agricultural sector, leading to severe food and livelihood needs for 3.9 million people.?
Approximately 4.1 million people displaced since 2012 remain displaced from their village of origin. The largest IDP hosting areas are in the north, northeast, and eastern provinces, where conflict is most active. More than half of IDPs live in provincial capitals, where public services are strained and struggling to cope. Additionally, a high number of returnees from neighbouring countries have put pressure on local and international response. In 2019, nearly 500,000 Afghans returned from Iran and Pakistan. The top provinces of returnees from Pakistan are Kandahar and Nangarhar. For returnees from Iran, the provinces of Herat and Takhar are the top destinations.?
INFORM indicates Afghanistan’s risk of humanitarian crisis is very high with a score of 8/10. This is due to the country’s high hazard exposure and vulnerability.?
On 19 May, Afghan Security Forces reportedly bombed a health clinic in Kunduz Province during a military offensive against the Taliban. According to media reports, 50 people were in the clinic at the time of the airstrike and the emergency ward and several ambulances sustained heavy damage. The government has not confirmed the incident and fatalities and injuries are unknown. Kunduz Province is highly contested and extremely affected by conflict as well as COVID-19. In Kunduz City’s main hospital, 25% of staff are infected or in isolation, but calls to quarantine the hospital have been ignored due to the high demand for treatment of war wounded.?
Two attacks on 12 May killed dozens of people across Afghanistan, demonstrating an escalating conflict and increasingly difficult humanitarian situation. At least 24 people were killed when unknown gunmen stormed a hospital supported by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Kabul’s Dasht-e Barchi, a Shia neighbourhood previously targeted by the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP). MSF has suspended activities at this maternity ward and patients have been evacuated to surrounding facilities. Attacks on healthcare and disruption of services by insurgents and government forces have increased since 2017, with more than 113 incidents reported in 2019. The other attack took place in Nangahar province, where a suicide bomb claimed by ISKP killed 24 people attending the funeral of a local police commander. Located along the Pakistan border and an ISKP and Taliban stronghold, Nangarhar is one of the country’s most-conflict affected areas, with 8,200 people displaced amid increased conflict and attacks in 2020. The humanitarian needs and availability of public services have been further aggravated by a surge in returnees from Pakistan since March due to COVID-19.?
Protesters gathered at the governor's headquarters in Ghor province on 9 May, alleging that aid meant to alleviate the pressure from COVID-19 restrictions has been mismanaged and unfairly distributed. COVID-19 containment measures including restrictions on businesses and cross-border movement have disrupted food deliveries to Afghanistan, causing a spike in food prices and worsening food needs. Clashes broke out between protesters and the police killed 7 people and injured 16 others.?
ACAPS' team is daily monitoring the impact of COVID-19. Find more information related to the outbreak here.
VEry High Constraints
Increased insecurity caused by weakening political stability in Afghanistan – including the failure of U.S-Taliban talks and the Afghan presidential elections, has significantly impacted humanitarian access in recent months. Hostilities between government forces and non-state armed groups have resulted in a high increase of civilian casualties. Additionally, attacks by the Taliban and Islamic State Khorasan have targeted civilian infrastructure and foreign NGOs. Access to non-government-controlled areas is volatile, with threats and expulsions causing agencies to suspend operations. Access to contested territory also remains challenging, with military offensives in these areas leading to road closures and displacements, disrupting access to services, limiting local populations’ freedom of movement and constraining humanitarian operations. Remote and mountainous terrain and severe damage to infrastructure caused by decades of conflict further restrict access.
Read more in the latest ACAPS Humanitarian Access Overview.
Food: Approximately 30-40% of the total population experiences IPC Phase 3 (Crisis) or IPC Phase 4 (Emergency) levels of food insecurity. This is driven by a combination of factors, including weak labour market and poor purchasing power, conflict, and a severe drought in 2018-2019 which dramatically affected crop production.?
Emergency Shelter and NFIs: 4.1 million people displaced by conflict and natural hazards since 2012 live in substandard shelters in urban and rural settlements. Protracted IDPs lack access to shelter, privacy, safe water and sanitation facilities, and protection from the summer heat and winter cold. Over 40%of the population in Nangarhar, Nimroz, Nuristan and Laghman provinces remain in makeshift shelters.?
Protection: Decades of war have led to heavy mine contamination and a high presence of explosive remnants of war (ERW) across the country. Indiscriminate use of IEDs, ground engagements, and aerial operations are responsible for an average of 10,000 civilian casualties per year since 2014. Pre-existing gender inequalities have been exacerbated by the conflict. Women face restrictions in accessing property, education, and experience high rates of gender-based violence.?
U.S. and Taliban Negotiations
The Taliban and the United States signed a peace deal on 29 February 2020, following more than two years of negotiations. The agreement includes a withdrawal of all American troops, including civilian personnel, within 14 months. It does not include a ceasefire; however, a seven-day "reduction in violence" period was a prerequisite to the signing of the deal saw an 80% decrease in daily attacks by the Taliban. It is unclear whether this reduced level of violence will continue.
The deal also outlines a timeline for the release of 5,000 Taliban political prisoners held by the Afghan government in exchange for 1,000 Afghan security forces held prisoner by the Taliban. The prisoner swap is a confidence-building measure meant to kickstart intra-Afghan peace talks set to begin in Oslo in mid-March 2020.The Afghan government has rejected this, saying a prisoner swap should be part of intra-Afghan talks, not a precondition.The deal also outlines a timeline for the release of 5,000 Taliban political prisoners held by the Afghan government in exchange for 1,000 Afghan security forces held prisoner by the Taliban. The prisoner swap is a confidence-building measure meant to kickstart intra-Afghan peace talks set to begin in Oslo in mid-March 2020.
The Afghan government has rejected this, saying a prisoner swap should be part of intra-Afghan talks, not a precondition. President Ghani has offered a phased release of Taliban prisoners, proposing that 1,500 be released prior to negotiations and the remaining 3,500 released only after a peace agreement is reached. The rejection of this proposal by the Taliban, in addition to the political instability caused by the contestated presidential election, has delayed the start of intra-Afghan talks. ?
Presidential Elections 2019
Presidential elections took place in Afghanistan on 28 September. Voter turnout was the lowest since elections began in 2001, with 25% of eligible voters participating in the election. This lower than usual turnout is an indication of the deteriorating security situation in the country.?
On election day, more than 2,000 polling centres were unable to open due to security concerns, and militants attacked communications towers which cut off nearly 1,000 polling stations from the election headquarters in Kabul. According to UNAMA estimates, 85 people were killed and 373 injured in attacks relating to the election period.?
The results of the election were delayed for more than three months due to technical problems with biometric voter data and accusations of fraud. The preliminary results for Afghanistan's presidential election were announced in December, with incumbent Ghani securing 50.64% of the vote. Immediately following the announcement, the Afghan Election Commission received more than 16,000 complaints, which led the Election Commission to announce the review of 3,000 polling stations for voting inconsistencies.?
In February, Ghani was confirmed to be the winner. This was rejected by the opposing candidate, Abdullah Abdullah. On 09 March 2020, Ghani was sworn in as President of Afghanistan. At the same time, Abdullah Abdullah held his own inauguration ceremony, declaring himself president. In May 2020, a tentative power-sharing deal was reached, signalling an end to the contested election period. The agreement names Abdullah Abdullah as the chairmen of the High Council for National Reconciliation, the leading role in the peace process with the Taliban. It also guarantees the right to appoint half of the presidential cabinet.?
Information gaps and needs
Access is often restricted due to ongoing hostilities, mine contamination, NSAG presence and remoteness, which subsequently decreases the accuracy of assessments of humanitarian needs.
Considering high population mobility and access restrictions, it is often difficult to track movements of internally displaced and returning populations.
Months of higher temperatures, usually from April to October/November, represent the Afghan fighting season, because milder temperatures make roads and other infrastructure, as well as mountain passes, more accessible.?
Heavy rains, usually falling from January - April, often cause flash floods and landslides in remote, northern areas of Afghanistan.?