Afghanistan

The Afghanistan NGO Safety Office: ANSO Quarterly data report Q.1 2011

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Attacks against NGOs by armed opposition have remained stable and low throughout the Q1 (p.3), although the overall level of incidents, including criminal acts, has grown by 38%. The criminal sector saw an increase of 50% (p.4) with attacks by AOG increasing by a lower rate of 29% (or just four actual attacks). A total of sev-en persons have been killed, comparable to eight at Q1 2010, all by small arms fire either as a result of delib-erate intent (mostly criminal), a personal dispute or collaterally in attacks on other targets (p.5). The per-centage of total attacks occurring in the North East has jumped from 12% in 2010 to 22% this year with a spike of incidents (mostly criminal) recently in Badakhshan; notably one of the provinces slated for early ’transition’. The number of attacks occurring in the East has similarly jumped from 20% to 25%, mostly as a result of a sharply deteriorating Nangarhar province. Kinetic attacks against NGOs have included improvised explosive devices (5), rocket strikes (1), small arms fire (8) and armed robberies (6). In addition there have been four cases of abduction, involving seven actual persons, all but one of which have been resolved to date. Abduction rates also remain consistent with 2010, which, coincidentally, also saw eight in the Q1.

The data at this stage continues to support the conclusion that, despite an over all increase in the conflict rate (p.8), NGOs are not routinely targeted by the Taliban as a matter of policy but are being impacted, as a statistical inevitability, by an increase in ambient violence. ANSO currently ranks collateral damage and an accidental strike with an IED as the highest risk factors facing the NGO community (p.6). Mitigation strate-gies for these specific risks would include reduced proximity to likely targets, adoption of a low visibility movement profile and where possible, direct access negotiations with opposition forces to respect neutrality.

There have been no substantial changes in the strategic environment since the last report period. The IMF remain engaged in establishing the conditions for their exit, with data suggesting that their regular force in-terventions have not significantly impacted AOG fighting capacity at a strategic level. AOG attacks in Hel-mand province have increased by 76% over the Q1 of 2010 (p.9). As anticipated, irregular armed forces con-tinue to develop (under the VSO/ALP rubric) well beyond the planned footprint (p.11) establishing potential obstacles to political cohesion and state stability. Preliminary “transition” areas have been announced, alt-hough it remains too early to judge the impact of this in the Q1 data period.