Crisis Severity The severity score from 1 to 5 is based on 31 indicators aggregated into 3 pillars (impact, conditions, and complexity)4.20 Very lowVery high 5
Impact This measures the impact of the crisis itself, in terms of the scope of its geographical, and human effects.4.50 Very lowVery high 5
Humanitarian Conditions This measures the conditions and status of the people affected, including info about the distribution of severity.4.00 Very lowVery high 5
Complexity This measures the complexity of the crisis, in terms of factors that affect its mitigation or resolution.4.40 Very lowVery high 5
Access Constraints This measures the level of humanitarian access constraints.5.0No constraintsExtreme constraints
Afghanistan: Displacement and access, Scenarios
The security situation in Afghanistan remains volatile as fighting between government and non-state armed groups, particularly the Taliban and the Islamic State Khorasan, intensified in 2019 amid ongoing peace negotiations between the US and the Taliban. Decades of conflict have had a severe impact on infrastructure, resilience, and population movement; in the first four months of 2019, more than 80,000 people were internally displaced by conflict.? A severe drought in 2018 has triggered additional internal displacement, decreased livelihood opportunities, and driven food insecurity that impacts more than 47% of the rural population, who largely rely on agriculture for their livelihoods.? 13.5 million people are currently estimated to face Crisis and Emergency (IPC 3 and 4) levels of food insecurity.? An increasing number of returnee-IDPs, primarily from Iran, put additional pressure on host community resources and international assistance.?
04/09: On 2 September 2019, the U.S and Taliban negotiations concluded with the announcement of an agreement that includes the withdrawal of more than 5,000 U.S troops from Afghanistan within 135 days of signing the final text. The agreement is awaiting approval from President Trump. Immediately following the announcement, a coordinated attack involving a suicide bomber and multiple gunmen targeted the Green Village compound in Kabul, an area which houses workers from international organizations and aid agencies. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack which killed 16 civilians and injured 119 more. The targeting of an area hosting international workers raises fears about the impact increased insecurity will have on humanitarian access for foreign agencies and workers in Afghanistan after U.S. withdrawal from the country.?
VERY HIGH CONSTRAINTS
Widespread insecurity, mine contamination and difficult terrain present major obstacles for humanitarian access. Hostilities involving non-state armed groups (NSAG) – especially the Taliban and Islamic State Khorasan – and Afghan and international forces have intensified in recent months despite ongoing peace negotiations. Areas controlled or contested by NSAG have increased over the last six months. While humanitarian actors have been able to secure access to areas under non-government control, contested territory remains a challenge. Local NGOs and national staff have been particularly exposed to protection risks. All of the 35 humanitarian aid workers killed, wounded, or kidnapped in Afghanistan between January 2018 and January 2019 were Afghan nationals. Poor road conditions, remoteness, and mountainous terrain restrict access; as has severe flooding in February and March.
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Peace talks between the US and the Taliban have seen some progress in 2019, most notably a draft agreement on the timeline for US troop withdrawal and the Taliban’s commitment to prevent militants from attacking US targets from Afghanistan.? Conceding to a potential ceasefire agreement would likely undermine the Taliban’s favourable negotiating position, for which military gains have seemingly been crucial in the past.? Targeted attacks to exert pressure on negotiations have occurred from both sides and are likely to continue.? Furthermore, the premature withdrawal of foreign forces risks leading to (non-state) armed groups expanding their offensives.? There is a general perception that the current talks are focused on lowering US financial and military involvement rather than on finding sustainable peace. This perception is reinforced by the absence of the Afghan government from talks and a lack of clarity over the content, as well as unclear discussion on the possibility of an interim government in the run up to the elections which have been postponed from July to September. If elections proceed without including the Taliban, the group is likely to violently disrupt the process.
A new escalation of hostilities will likely spark temporary and prolonged displacement and maintain the record-high levels of civilian casualties as seen in 2018. Major Taliban assaults on the strategic cities Farah, Ghazni and Kunduz in 2016 and 2018 led to the displacement of tens of thousands of people and several hundred civilian casualties, and these are in particular remain at risk of future assaults.? A spike in conflict will likely hamper access in a country where the humanitarian space is already limited. Uncertainty about the outcomes of peace negotiations and the upcoming Presidential elections – likely to be heavily contested – add to the extremely uncertain operating environment. Protection is a major concern for the civilian population. IDPs will also likely have urgent shelter, food, NFI and health needs. New displacement will add a strain to limited host community capacities. Resources will be further stretched due to high numbers of undocumented returnees that continue to return from Iran. Humanitarian needs will be exacerbated by decades of conflict, protracted poverty, and a severe drought in 2018 that left 13.5 million people severely food insecure.?
Food: Food insecurity affects 47% of the total population across all provinces: close to 11 million people face IPC Phase 3 (Crisis) and 4 (Emergency) levels.?
Protection: The indiscriminate use of IEDs, ground engagements and aerial operations are largely responsible for an average of 10,000 civilian casualties per year (2014-2018). Pre-existing gender and social inequalities have been exacerbated by the crisis.?
WASH: Close to 60% of Afghanistan’s population does not have access to improved sanitation and 36% rely on unimproved water sources; the drought has increased the use of unsafe water sources.?
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.?