“Military fire across the border into Nangarhar and Kunar Provinces has forced Afghan families to flee their homes. Whether indiscriminate or specifically targeted, such attacks forcibly displace civilians, violating International Humanitarian Law, and must stop,” said NRC Country Director in Afghanistan, Kate O'Rourke
An estimated 150 - 200 families have been displaced after Pakistani armed forces reportedly fired artillery and rockets into Lalpur district and other areas of Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar and Kunar provinces. Civilian injuries have also been reported. Many of these families fled to Lalpur district centre and Chiknawor village, in neighbouring Muhmand Dara district.
“The rocket firing started Friday morning, so we left the village. It took our family one and half hours to walk to Wara Lalpura,” said Haji Zia Jan, a 62 year-old IDP, by phone. “My son went back to the area again Saturday. He said all of the walls had collapsed and most of the animals had been killed,” he continued.
Haji Zia Jan's family, along with four others, are now staying in a single room in Lalpur district centre, thanks to the generosity of relatives.
“Nangarhar Province already overwhelmed by the impact of displacement in Afghanistan, with thousands of families internally displaced from conflict, well as tens of thousands of Afghan refugee families who felt forced to return from Pakistan in 2016. This further displacement from cross-border offensives aggravates suffering and compounds the critical humanitarian needs among communities in these areas,” said O’Rourke.
“It was early morning, when the rocket shelling started,” said Miya Noor Jan, 60, who also fled his village of Raidha with his family on Friday. “The firing was non-stop and we decided to leave before being killed,” said the displaced grandfather, to NRC staff in Kabul by phone. “We could only save our lives. All our belongings have been left behind. We have nothing here and we can’t go back.”
NRC is ready to support needs assessments and emergency responses, while acknowledging the Afghan Government’s primary responsibility to act. Local authorities, including the Department of Refugees and Repatriation (DoRR), today commenced preliminary needs assessments in Mohmand Dara and Ghani Khael.
The number of people displaced due to conflict has increased in Afghanistan over the past five years. More than 600,000 persons were internally displaced due to conflict in 2016 alone.
More than 600,000 Afghans returned from Pakistan between July and December 2016, and the majority settled in Nangarhar Province. NRC has assisted 35,000 of the most vulnerable of these families with life-saving emergency assistance and shelter. NRC also provides emergency education for 10,000 Afghan boys and girls in the area.
In 2016, NRC provided life-saving emergency assistance to over 80,000 people internally displaced by conflict in Afghanistan, within two weeks of their displacement, in some of the hardest-to-reach areas in the country. The Emergency Response Mechanism (ERM) in Afghanistan is a partnership between the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and seven international organisations, including NRC.
In total, over 2016, NRC directly assisted 300,000 displaced persons through its wider programming in Afghanistan, which includes legal assistance, shelter, and education in emergencies. NRC maintains ten offices across the country, including in Nangarhar.