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Afghanistan: 2020 year in review: Humanitarian priorities, challenges, and response

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WHAT HAPPENED IN 2020?

In 2020, the number of people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance almost doubled due mainly to conflict, natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in February 2020, more than 51,500 people were infected and 2,180 people died. The number of people who were infected with COVID-19 is assumed to be significantly higher due to limited public health resources, low testing capacity and lack of people coming forward for testing. A joint study by the Ministry of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University and WHO suggested that by June 2020, COVID-19 had infected about a third of the population. At the end of 2020, only 165,628 people out of a population of 36.7 million had been tested.

On 23 March, the UN Secretary-General called for a global ceasefire to focus on ending the COVID-19 pandemic. While a reduction in civilian casualties was recorded by UNAMA in 2020 compared to 2019, the security situation deteriorated in the last quarter of 2020 with the start of the Intra-Afghan Negotiations. Civilian casualties increased in the last three months of the year by 45 per cent compared to the same period in 2019 especially from improvised explosive attacks and targeted killings. A record number of women were killed in 2020. The number of women and children killed and injured increased by 13 percent, making up 43 per cent of all civilian casualties.

Throughout the year, 404,000 people were forced to flee their homes due to conflict and more than 104,600 people were impacted by natural disasters — their vulnerability compounded by COVID-19. The pandemic also triggered an economic downturn that contributed to a record 868,000 undocumented migrants returning to Afghanistan, the vast majority of whom returned from Iran with humanitarian needs.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.