Afghanistan: Monthly Humanitarian Update (September 2019)
Responding to people in need in a pervasive protection crisis
HUMANITARIAN NEEDS AND RESPONSE: JANUARY TO JUNE 2019
4.2 million people reached
93% people reached out of total planned people to be assisted
332 districts reached
In the first half of the year, 4.2 million people targeted in the Humanitarian Response Plan in 2019 were reached with assistance at least once. This included 3.2 million people who received food and emergency livelihoods assistance. In September alone, the UN and partners assisted 851,879 people in need with 8,447 metric tons of food and distributed US$939,361 in cash transfers to cover families’ food needs. To address malnutrition, 469,000 women and children received emergency nutrition services. In addition, 835,000 people were provided with access to safe water; 492,000 people were assisted with shelter, emergency relief items and winterisation support; 44,000 children in emergencies were given access to education; 656,000 people accessed health services, and over 254,000 people were reached with mine risk education. Through support from humanitarian partners, life-saving assistance was delivered to 93 per cent of the total planned people to be assisted in 332 out of 401 districts across the country.
Humanitarian needs continue to grow in Afghanistan due to ongoing violence, natural disasters (droughts and flash floods), internal displacement, growing food insecurity and the upcoming winter season. Hunger and malnutrition are at dangerously high levels and the lingering impact of the 2018-2019 drought continues to be felt by millions of people across Afghanistan. The most recent nutrition survey across Afghanistan showed that 22 out of 34 provinces are currently above the emergency level threshold for acute malnutrition. Food insecurity is at an alarmingly high level; based on the latest assessments, an estimated 13 million people are in crisis and emergency (IPC 3 and 4).
Badakhshan, Ghor, Nimroz, Uruzgan, Nuristan and Daykundi are now among the most affected provinces. A recent nutrition survey across Afghanistan showed that 22 out of 34 provinces are currently above the emergency level threshold for acute malnutrition.
For more information, see the Afghanistan 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan: Mid-Year Review of Financing, Achievements and Response Challenges.
IMPACT OF RECENT VIOLENCE ON CIVILIANS
The overall security situation across Afghanistan remained volatile in the lead-up to and on the day of the much anticipated 28 September presidential election, impacting civilians across the country, especially children. Similar to the last presidential election in 2014 and the parliamentary elections in 2018, hundreds of security incidents affecting civilians were reported across all regions. The highest volumes occurred in the East, South and North-East of the country. According to UNAMA, 277 civilian casualties were verified, including 249 injuries and 38 deaths on election day. Overall the last quarter from July to September 2019 recorded the highest level of civilian casualties since UNAMA began systematic tracking civilian casualties in 2009. According to UNAMA, the highest number of civilian casualties to date was recorded this year in July when more than 1,500 civilian casualties occurred.
Children made up more than a third of civilian casualties on election day with 55 children injured while at home. From January to September 2019, women children represented 41 per cent of all civilian casualties according to UNAMA. The most recent UN Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict report found that over 14,000 grave violations against children were recorded in Afghanistan from 2015 to 2018, equal to nearly 10 violations per day. Women across Afghanistan also continued to be subject to threats to their lives and physical safety from conflict-related violence and other forms of violence related to their gender.
Further to the above, during the election period, key roads across the country were reportedly closed to civilian traffic, and electricity and mobile phone networks were interrupted before and during the presidential election; particularly in the North (Balkh, Faryab, Jawzjan, Sar-e-Pul, and Samangan) and North-East (Kunduz, Baghlan, Takhar, Faryab and Badakhshan) of the country. On 24 September, a Non-State Armed Group (NSAG) reportedly warned private mobile companies to shut down their networks in the North until after the presidential election; all networks resumed service by end of September and early October. Communication issues also affected Farah in the West.
Given the high number of civilian casualties this quarter, humanitarians have raised concerns over the excessive use of force by all parties and the impact on civilians. Although the specific contexts in which civilians are killed or injured varies, parties must be held accountable for alleged violations of international law, to ensure justice for the victims and to prevent future violations. UNAMA monitors civilian casualties in Afghanistan through their quarterly Protection of Civilians reports.