Conflict in Afghanistan: 180,000 people displaced in desperate need of humanitarian aid

Conflict induced displacement in Afghanistan as of 5 June 2016 Conflict induced displacement in Afghanistan as of 5 June 2016 © 2016 OCHA

OCHA - Ongoing fighting causes families to be displaced more than once, fleeing further into remote and conflict zones, making it harder for humanitarian agencies to reach them.


According to the OCHA Humanitarian Report on Afghanistan, over 118,000 people were forced to leave their homes over the first four months of 2016, amounting to an average of 1000 people being internally displaced a day. Conflict in Afghanistan caused internal displacement to increase 40 per cent from 2014 to 2015, and is expected to be even higher in 2016. Fighting between the Taliban and government forces backed by international military has left civilians caught in the crossfires of the conflict. The increased violence throughout the country has made it extremely difficult for humanitarian assistance to reach the most vulnerable displaced persons in remote and conflict areas.

This spring, in the north eastern province of Kunduz, more than 22,400 people were internally displaced, 14,000 of them from the city of Kunduz. While the Taliban have gained more control of the countryside, in October 2015 they briefly took control over Kunduz city. In March this year, the non-state armed actors (NSAA) launched a counteroffensive by surrounding Kunduz city, where exploded IEDs caused widespread destruction and the displacement of 7,000 people.

Families have been forced to leave their homes to seek safety with neighbours and other family members. “When we conducted the initial needs assessments, as many as six families were living in one house,” reported Syed Zaheer, OCHA Humanitarian Affairs Officer. But the ongoing violence has displaced families more than once. “The displaced families in Kunduz have endured repeated suffering – some displaced two and three times – raising their vulnerability,” said Gift Chatora, OCHA Head of Sub-Office.

Airstrikes by the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and international military forces (IMF) and heavy artillery by the Afghan National Army (ANA) escalated as the NSAA attacked ANSF checkpoints, causing further displacement of civilians into remote and insecure areas. Humanitarian assistance has struggled to reach the most vulnerable displaced people. Despite the fact that humanitarian agencies are facing a number of dangerous challenges, from IEDs, to military operations and road closures, they have managed to reach a number of displaced families and provided aid.

There are, however, still other regions that have yet to receive any humanitarian assistance in weeks due to road closures and persistent fighting. In the province of Uruzgan, more than 10,500 people were displaced to Dehrawud District, where road blockages has left them stranded without humanitarian assistance. The World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and NGOs have identified the urgent need for food, nutritional support, health care, and emergency shelter in the area.

“Whenever there’s fighting, the women and children are most affected. If the roads are closed, they face great difficulty to reach health facilities, braving unpaved roads along with mountainous terrain, it can take hours and even a day. Some areas are completely cut off from access to health care,” reported Dr. Zahir Khan, medical doctor with the International Medical Corps (IMC).

Donor governments have contributed over 101 million USD to the Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF) in Afghanistan since 2014. This year the CMF has already received 33.6 million USD. The donations are meant to strategically address the critical humanitarian needs in Afghanistan. The OCHA report further mentions that due to the increased in conflict displacement and civilian casualties in 2015 and 2016, the Humanitarian Coordinator and the CHF Advisory Board approved a 20 million USD allocation to reinforce emergency trauma services.

The report questions the humanitarian principle of impartiality. To assure that aid is not provided in favour of one party of the conflict over an other, humanitarian assistance must be provided to anybody in need of assistance, regardless of what side of the conflict they stand. From reports on conflict internally displaced persons, OCHA found that 25 per cent of those people are located in “inaccessible areas.” It appears that UN agencies and NGOs have the means and access to assist displaced persons in urban areas, while more rural and remote regions account for the “inaccessible areas.” The report acknowledges that with no sign of the conflict abating, there is an essential need for a more impartial assessment and delivery approach to conflict internally displaced persons. The OCHA calls on opinions and comments on how to address the issue of impartiality, while considering the fair representation of all the displaced, and assess the aid delivery and access efforts.

 

To read the report, visit:

https://www.humanitarianresponse.info/en/system/files/documents/files/afg_humanitarian_bulletin_2016_april.pdf
https://www.humanitarianresponse.info/en/operations/afghanistan/idpsù
http://www.unocha.org/Afghanistan
https://www.irinnews.org/news/2016/05/16/1000-afghans-flee-fighting-every-day

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