Flash Update 3 – Fighting, displacement and civilian casualties in Southern Afghanistan (18 October 2020)


Key Highlights

• Heavy fighting in southern Afghanistan, near Lashkargah city in Hilmand province continues affecting thousands of people.

• Four assessment teams are continuing their work to gauge the humanitarian impact of the situation.

Situation Overview:

Fighting that started on 11 October between the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and a nonstate armed group (NSAG) has carried on for several days near Lashkargah city in Hilmand province.

According to reports received on 18 October, the security situation has deteriorated in several locations around the area, including in Nahr-e-Saraj, Nawa-e-Barakzaiy, Nad-e-Ali/Marja and Lashkargah. The frontline of the conflict has reportedly moved closer to Greshk, the capital of Nahre-Saraj, which is strategically located along the highway between Hirat and Kandahar. Sporadic clashes were also reported along the highway between Lashkargah and Kandahar. On 17 October, civilians residing in Khosrabad in Nawa-e-Barakzaiy district were asked to leave the area by the NSAG.

The presence of IEDs planted on main roads continues to hinder movement. Apart from ANSF movement, the Lashkargah – Kandahar highway and Lashkargah – Nawa-e-Barakzaiy road remains closed to civilians due to the danger posed by IEDs, however people are using other routes in NSAG controlled areas.

Anticipated Humanitarian Impact:

The fighting has triggered the flight of local residents with local authorities initially estimating that 35,000 people (around 5,000 households) were displaced into Lashkargah city. Assessment teams are still verifying these numbers with 3,520 IDPs confirmed so far.

According to reports, around 300 families or approximately 2,100 people from Nawa-e-Barakzaiy have been newly displaced yesterday within Nawa district (Kharabad, Gawragai, Landai Shakh and Hazar Asp). According to preliminary reports, 50 to 60 IDP families reached Lashkargah via NSAG controlled routes. Information suggests that the displacement could be temporary with the IDPs likely to return to their homes once security situation in the area has stabilised. Families displaced during the previous week to Lashkargah are now both relocating and returning to NSAG-controlled areas due to lack of shelter and livelihood opportunities in Lashkargah as families are unable to pay for rent there.

Moreover, relocation has reportedly taken place to Nad-e-Ali/Marja, Nawa-e-Barakzaiy and Greshk districts (not their places of origin) while some families have returned to Babaje (Lashkargah). The number of returning families is yet to be confirmed.

In addition to the previously reported closure of health clinics, another health clinic in the Aynak area in Nawa-e-Barakzaiy was closed on 15 October due to conflict affecting around 15,000 people in the area. As of 18 October, there are no additional reports received on the status of the previously closed health facilities.

Interruptions to mobile phone networks remain a challenge in Lashkargah among other districts, hindering information flow and the progress of humanitarian assessments.


The Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA) has resumed food distributions reaching 200 families with food packages that include 50 kg wheat flour, 3 kg cooking oil, 10 kg rice, 3 kg sugar and 1 kg tea. The Minister of State for ANDMA recently announced 20 million AFN to assist IDPs in Hilmand province. 153 households or 1,051 IDPs received assistance from UNHCR, UNICEF, IRC and DACAAR with cash (11,000 AFN/household), NFIs, emergency latrines and water supplied through water tankering. The Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) through the support of UNICEF also supplied water in IDP locations. On 18 October, four Operational Coordination Team (OCT) assessment teams led by DACAAR, along with staff from UNHCR, WFP,
HAPA, APA, HRDA, IRC, the Department of Refugees and Repatriation (DoRR) and the Provincial Governor's Office (PGO) have been deployed to assess needs in different parts of Lashkargah. To date, 3,520 people have been verified, with assessments ongoing.

On 17 October, OCHA coordinated the response for 1,051 IDPs who received humanitarian aid. OCHA is currently coordinating the response for the remaining 2,469 people verified by the assessment teams based on information about humanitarian needsthat has been shared with all relevant clusters.

OCHA will continue to coordinate closely with ANDMA to ensure efficient information flows and to avoid duplication of efforts. OCHA has particularly emphasised the need to assist IDPs in hard-to-reach areas such as Greshk and Nawa-e-Barakzaiy districts that have not yet been assisted by humanitarian partners.

WHO has delivered a trauma kit to Greshk District Hospital. During the coming week, two Inter-agency Emergency Health Kits (IEHK) – which will include supplementary kits and a trauma kit – will be delivered to Bost Provincial Hospital, Nahr-e-Saraj and Musaqala districts. WHO will also deliver 1,000 bottles of intravenous fluid drips, an acute watery diarrhoea kit with one IEHK supplementary kit to Nad-e-Ali/Marja Comprehensive Health Centre. The distribution of these medical supplies at both provincial capital and district-level will support approximately 35,500 people.

Access to deliver assistance in Lashkargah remains a challenge and advocacy is ongoing with interlocutors to ensure humanitarian assistance can reach people in need. The negotiated access for humanitarian supplies at the local level recently allowed for the delivery of UNHCR tents and NFIs through NSAG controlled areas, reaching 700 families in Lashkargah. Similarly, WFP will deliver food assistance in Lashkargah through similar access negotiated routes.
The next update will be published as the situation changes and new information becomes available.


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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