EASO Country of Origin Information Report: Afghanistan Individuals targeted by armed actors in the conflict

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European Asylum Support Office


This report was drafted by COI officers from the COI sector of the Information and Analysis Unit in the European Asylum Support Office (EASO). To cover all topic areas of the Terms of Reference, EASO created two COI reports: One covering targeting directly related to the armed actors in the conflict and another for targeting linked to broader societal issues.

This report covers topics on individuals targeted by armed actors within the context of the conflict in Afghanistan. This report is written in conjunction with a report on targeting of individuals in society titled, EASO COI Report - Afghanistan: Individuals targeted under societal and legal norms (2).

Terms of Reference

The report aims to provide relevant information for the assessment of international protection status determination (PSD, including refugee status and subsidiary protection).

The terms of reference of this report were defined by EASO based on discussions held and input received from policy experts in EU+ countries3 and UNHCR within the framework of a Country Guidance Network pilot exercise to develop a Country Guidance Note on Afghanistan. The report was drafted for the purpose of developing a chapter on the application of Refugee Status and Subsidiary Protection (a and b).

On targeting by insurgents, this report primarily focusses on targeting by the Taliban, with a separate subchapter for the Islamic State in Khorasan Province group (ISKP) and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). These three groups are deemed the main insurgent groups active in Afghanistan, and their targeting to some extend is representative of most of the insurgent targeting taking place in Afghanistan.

On the side of the (pro-)government actors in the conflict, this report looks into their conduct towards those suspected of being an anti-government element, and towards journalists and humanitarian workers.

Terms of Reference for this report can be found in Annex II: Terms of Reference.


The information is a result of desk research of public, specialised paper-based and electronic sources until 27 November 2017. In addition, during the research, EASO researchers conducted extensive interviews with the following sources:

  • Borhan Osman, a former journalist with Pajhwok and researcher/analyst with the Kabul-based Afghanistan Analysts Network. Now Osman is a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group. He specialises in insurgent groups and armed conflict in Afghanistan. His research and reporting has mostly been based on fieldwork across Afghanistan.

 Abubakar Siddique, a senior correspondent specializing in coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the editor of RFE/RL's ‘Gandhara’ website. In addition to his reporting, Siddique speaks frequently at prominent Western think tanks and has contributed articles, chapters, and research papers to a range of publications. Siddique is also the author of The Pashtun Question: The Unresolved Key to the Future of Pakistan and Afghanistan (2014).

  • Anand Gopal, program fellow with the International Security Program at New America Foundation. Gopal is also a journalist with over ten years of experience in Afghanistan, writing for the Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, Harper’s Magazine and other media outlets. He is also the author of the book No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban and the War Through Afghan Eyes (2014).

To verify whether the writers respected the EASO COI Report Methodology, a peer review was carried out by COI specialists from the departments listed as reviewers in the Acknowledgements section. In addition, a review of the report was carried out by Dr. Neamat Nojumi, a scholar on Central and Southwest Asia and senior policy analyst on Afghanistan. The Human Rights Service at the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) reviewed all content. All comments made by the reviewers were taken into consideration and most of them were implemented in the final draft of this report. EASO performed the final quality review and edited the text. This quality process led to the inclusion of some additional information, in response to feedback received during the respective reviews, until 27 November 2017.