Afghanistan: Humanitarian Access Snapshot (August 2020)

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In August 2020, the HAG recorded 104 incidents impacting access for humanitarians, compared to 89 incidents in July . This makes August the month with most access constraints on HAG record since 2016, highlighting a continuously challenging access environment for the humanitarian community. Most constraints continued to origin from interference with humanitarian activities (33), with numbers remaining on par with July (29), whereas the number of constraints stemming from military operations increased significantly in August, with 19 incidents on record compared to nine in July.

Violence/Threats Against Humanitarian Personnel/Assets/Facilities

During the month of August, the HAG recorded 24 instances of violence/ threats against humanitarian staff or personnel/ assets/ facilities compared to 26 such incidents recorded in July. NSAG-TB and ACG authored 11 and 10 incidents respectively. In seven instances, NSAG-TB issued threats and intimidations to humanitarian personnel, including a warning that female staff members should not travel to NSAG-TB controlled areas in Takhar. This month also saw another four abductions, with NSAG-TB authoring three of these incidents. This brings the total number of abductions in 2020 to 36, compared to 14 during the same period in 2019.

Military Operations and Kinetic Activity

The 19 access impediments stemming from military operations and kinetic activity are indicative of a high pace conflict environment, with similar high numbers only reported in April and May 2020. The HAG recorded at least 10 temporary closures of facilities or halt of programs, with another partner relocating their of programming. The deteriorating security situation and ongoing fighting in Kandahar led to the closure of at least four health facilities in Arghestan, Shawalikot and Spinboldak districts, which leaves around 75,000 beneficiaries with limited access to health services. While most incidents did not directly target humanitarians, their impacts were nonetheless serious:
On 06 August, during an armed clash between NSAG-TB and ANSF in the western region, an NGO staff member heading to his residence was fatally wounded in the crossfire, while in another incident on 10 August, an NGO run hospital in Maidan Wardak caught fire after it was collaterally impacted during fighting between NSAG-TB and ANSF.

Interference in the implementation of humanitarian activities

In August, the HAG recorded 33 interference attempts in the implementation of humanitarian activities – the highest monthly number this year. NSAG-TB continued to author most incidents (25), while four interference attempts were authored by government officials, with community members and ANSF behind three and one incidents respectively.

Of most concern was a new trend of NSAG-TB demanding humanitarian partners for registration. The HAG is aware of at least 10 partners who were contacted by NSAG-TB through WhatsApp with requests for registration. Slightly different to these ‘non-specific’ WhatsApp messages, provincial NSAG-TB NGO focal points in the western and northeastern regions directly reached out to partners and asked them for registration, in some cases asking for submission of sensitive information like budget details. Partners unsure how to deal with such requests are encouraged to reach out to the HAG directly.

In addition to health facilities temporarily closing due to ongoing fighting, NSAG-TB also actively impeded health services in contested DACs. In Sherzad District, NSAG-TB ordered the closure of a NGO-run clinic, allegedly because they were providing services in a government controlled area. Similarly, in Arghistan District, NSAG-TB requested staff of a humanitarian partner not to attend their work until further notice – the health facility is equally located in a government-controlled area.

GOA also authored four interferences in the implementation of humanitarian activities by attempting to interfere with staff recruitment and the beneficiary selection process. Meanwhile, issues continue in Hirat and Khost with the provincial department for economics requesting for MoUs for emergency projects, which is contrary to the NGO law.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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