Afghanistan

Afghanistan: Humanitarian Access Snapshot (August 2021)

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KEY ISSUES

With significant security and political changes in the country, the HAG recorded 236 access impediment incidents in August, compared to 180 incidents in July 2021*. The Taliban who took control over most parts of the country during August, continued to author most incidents (197), followed by ACG and ANSF-perpetrated incidents. Violence and threats against humanitarian personnel, assets and/or facilities accounted for 53 per cent of all access constraints, with 125 incidents recorded this month, compared to 34 incidents in July. Military operations and kinetic activity accounted for 18 per cent while interferences in the implementation of humanitarian activities accounted for 14 per cent of all access constraints.
There was a notable decrease in movement restrictions, which points towards a significant drop in humanitarian programs due to active clashes. The number of levy requests was among the lowest recorded in previous months, although reports indicate that taxation of development partners might be a growing concern.

Violence/ Threat Against Humanitarian Personnel/ Assets/ Facilities

In August, the HAG logged 124 incidents of violence/threats against humanitarians and their assets and facilities - the highest number of such incidents on HAG record. The majority of incidents related to intimidations, thefts, occupation of facilities or assets, and hijacking of vehicles and were authored by individuals identifying as Taliban. Most incidents were recorded in Kabul, Herat, Bamyan, Balkh and Nangarhar and had a very chilling effect on humanitarian operations. The notable increase in violent incidents can be attributed to the Taliban’s rapid advancement into Kabul and other major cities, where Taliban fighters occupied many humanitarian buildings, in addition to government installations. In the early stages, humanitarian buildings were used as hideouts and as fighting positions against ANDSF. On 4 August 2021, Lashkar Gha City, Taliban members occupied an NGO compound and took position on the rooftop from where they started firing towards the Governor’s compound. Once the cities came under full Taliban control, Taliban members, often identifying as members of the intelligence unit, conducted searches of humanitarian offices, seized humanitarian vehicles and asked NGO staff about project details as well asstaff and asset lists. In some cases, provincial Taliban NGO Commissioners were successful in getting previously seized vehicles back and in convincing the occupiers to vacate the humanitarian facilities. However, in many cases, seized items remain missing and facilities remain occupied.In at least 18 incidents, ACG members falsely identified as Taliban to get access to humanitarian compounds and looted assets and vehicles from NGOs offices and private residences. In at least 35 instances Taliban members threatened and intimidated UN and NGO staff through phone calls, letters as well as during house searches and accused them ofspying for foreign intelligence entities. The current environment creates a lot of insecurity and concerns among the humanitarian community and highlights the need to have a functioning problem-solving mechanism with Taliban interlocutors at provincial and national level to quickly resolve issues of occupation and seized assets.

Military Operations and Kinetic Activity

During August, the HAG recorded at least 44 access incidents resulting from military operations and kinetic activity, compared to 53 in July. Taliban initiated 38 incidents followed by ANSF (six). All 44 incidents were recorded in the first half of the month. At least five health facilities and one NGO compound were collaterally damaged or destroyed by AAF airstrikes, in some cases of the airstrikes occurred after Taliban fighters took military position within these humanitarian sites. In Lashkar Gah, Hilmand, an AAF airstrike targeted a Basic Health Clinic in the Safian area, during which several Taliban members and one nurse were killed while two other health staff were wounded. The affected health facility subsequently suspended its activities. Due to intensified clashes between Taliban and ANSF and a high number of AAF airstrikes, key supply routes, customs and airports were temporarily closed. There were numerous cases where humanitarian partners suspended their operations (including emergency activities) and relocated their staff to a safer location. As a result, much needed emergency response activities were suspended despite a high number of conflict IDPs in major cities.

Interference in the implementation of humanitarian activities

In August, the HAG recorded 32 interferences compared to 11 in July. Taliban members initiated 31 interferences, while ANSF members authored one incident. In at least 19 instances, armed Taliban members visited NGO offices with the aim to search and investigate about the NGO’s activities, asking for staff and assets lists. In some instances, NGOs were asked to register their programs, or to stop female staff from attending offices and field work. On 31 August 2021, in Farah, the Provincial NGO Commissioner asked all humanitarian partners to submit their project proposals along with all related documents; further emphasizing that women were not allowed to resume their work until further notice. In five incidents, Taliban members attempted to interfere in health programs by demanding additional services and supplies, suspending health services and trying to replace some of their key staff. The absence of a clear Taliban policy on humanitarian activities, makes it challenging for provincial NGO Commissioners to make decisions which creates a certain limbo with lots of confusion among humanitarian partners which results insignificant delays in resuming humanitarian programs.

  • In addition to the 176 incidents reported in the July snapshot, the HAG received late reports of an additional four incidents in August.
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.