The continued deepening and geographic spread of the conflict has prompted a 13% increase in the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in 2017, now 9.3 million. Unrelenting displacement and exposure to repetitive shocks continues to intensify humanitarian needs.
Afghanistan remains one of the most dangerous, and most violent, crisis ridden countries in the world. Households in Afghanistan face constant danger of conflict and natural disasters, often compelling them to flee their homes at a moment’s notice. In 2016, all regions of the country have been touched by the conflict. Violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and Human Rights Law (HRL) occur regularly - including targeted killings, forced recruitment and attacks on health and education facilities.
The 8,397 civilian casualties in the first nine months of 2016 is the highest recorded since 2009, and included a 15% increase in child casualties compared to 2015. In 2016 increasingly frequent ground engagements continued to be the main cause of civilian casualties, while also limiting freedom of movement for civilians and contaminating areas with explosive remnants of war (ERW) which disproportionally affect children. Health partners reported 57,346 weapon wounded cases between January and September alone, compared to 19,749 in 2011, representing almost a three-fold increase.
The country is facing increasing numbers of people on the move. In 2016 the conflict has led to unprecedented levels of displacement, reaching half a million in November - the highest number recorded to date. On average, every day sees another 1,500 people forced to leave their homes, escaping violence. Over half a million displaced families are scattered across 34 different provinces – with approximately 20% extremely hard to reach in gradually expanding areas of nongovernment controlled territory. 56% of the displaced are children and face particular risk of abuse, and exploitation, as well as interrupted school attendance and harmful child labour. Multiple forms of gender based violence (GBV), particularly early and forced marriage, domestic, psychological, and sexual abuse are reported, affecting individuals in hosting and displaced communities alike.
Magnifying this crisis of forced displacement, 2016 saw the unprecedented return of some 600,000 registered refugees and undocumented Afghans from Pakistan. For the majority, return is reluctant, and the experience often abrupt and distressing. Once here, they add to the ranks of internally displaced, as conflict and lost community networks prevent them returning to any ostensive place of origin. With no obvious prospects for an improved state of affairs, 2017 is likely to see at least 450,000 new IDPs and potentially as many as a million more Afghan returns from Pakistan and Iran.
Active conflict continues to threaten the physical safety and health of Afghans, disproportionately so for women and children. Attacks against health facilities, patients, medical staff and vehicles, continue to disrupt and deprive people of life-saving treatment. Four and a half million people live in conflict affected districts with extremely constrained access to health services. Maternal and child health remains dangerously overlooked. Rates of infant and maternal mortality remain among the highest in the world and severe acute malnutrition (SAM) has breached emergency thresholds in 20 of 34 provinces. Some 1.8 million people require treatment for acute malnutrition.
Concurrent exposure to violence as well as high economic vulnerability means most households experience multiple and repetitive shocks within a year resulting in food insufficiency and adoption of negative, often harmful coping strategies which plunge families deeper into crisis.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.