This is the second edition of the C-19 Access Impediment Report, looking at access constraints linked to the outbreak of Covid-19 as well as its humanitarian response. The report is produced by the HAG in collaboration with humanitarian partners. The report is published on a bi-weekly basis.
Lockdowns and impact on humanitarians
As of 25 April, 33 out of 34 provinces had implemented lockdown measures, with Qala-e Naw being the latest city to announce a lockdown on 17 April (see figure 1). Specific restrictions vary across provinces, and several Provincial Governors have announced extensions/tightening of initially imposed measures, including in Jalalabad, Kandahar and Kabul. While the Afghan government remains committed to allow humanitarian movement during the lockdown, a nationwide solution to facilitate humanitarian movement remains outstanding, leaving it to provincial authorities to define rules and regulations.
In Kunar, Nangarhar and Hirat provinces, provincial authorities issued permits to humanitarian organizations, while in Balkh, the Provincial Governor published a letter to facilitate humanitarian movement. Nonetheless, challenges in the implementation remained, with several reports of impeded access. In Kunar Province, an NGO was blocked from entering Asadabad City and only allowed to pass an ANSF checkpoint after the OCHA regional office engaged the Provincial Governor. In Kandahar City, a number of humanitarian organizations faced challenges when trying to pass ANSF checkpoints, with reports of their staff members being verbally and physically harassed by ANSF members. Another organization reported that their vehicles were stuck for hours at the Jalalabad city gate, despite their drivers showing their NGO IDs.
Generally speaking, restrictions seem to be more stringent on the first few days following a new announcement, which is likely due to the information taking time to trickle down from the decision makers to the ANSF members manning the checkpoints. Additionally, it seems that big and well-known organizations, with high-visibility (eg. logo on their vehicles) appear less impacted by the movement restrictions than smaller organizations traveling in low-profile vehicles.
The lockdown impacts specific sectors and staff members differently: Staff members relying on (shared) taxis to come to work are encountering difficulties, with taxis having either stopped operations or not being allowed passage at checkpoints.
Movement is particularly difficult for support staff, including day laborers employed by humanitarian organizations but not in possession of organizational ID cards. Meanwhile, organizations working with cash delivery mechanisms faced difficulties when a number of financial service providers had to stop operations during the lockdowns.
The continued movement restrictions create serious safety and security concerns for humanitarian organizations, with long queues at checkpoints being a potential target for NSAG attacks. While the movement restrictions of humanitarian partners might not lead to the suspension of humanitarian activities, they continue to seriously delay and hamper a swift C-19 response.
Regional OCHA offices together with ACBAR and INSO have been critical in providing ad-hoc support to organizations stuck at checkpoints and continue to engage with national and provincial authorities to find more sustainable solutions.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.