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Afghanistan: 2019 update to the 2018-2021 Humanitarian Response Plan


Ongoing conflict, the worst drought in decades, and deepening poverty have all contributed to a deteriorating humanitarian situation across Afghanistan. As many as 6.3 million people require some form of humanitarian and protection assistance in 2019 – almost double the number at this time last year. The next three years are likely to be equally challenging with needs determined by the political, economic and regional context, which could evolve in both positive and negative ways, and imply an increase or decrease in needs accordingly.

People are facing multiple crises, including armed conflict, displacement, drought, chronic underdevelopment and weak investment in basic services, all of which demand a humanitarian response. More than 17 million people live in the provinces most severely affected by drought, of which 10.5 million have been affected and 4 million require an inter-sectoral response to survive. At the same time, a quarter of all districts (106 out of 401) have a conflict-severity score of 4 (out of 5) due to the highlevels of displacement, armed clashes, air strikes and civilian casualties experienced by communities living in these locations.

This chapter briefly summarises the overall drivers and impact of the crisis. Additional thematic and sector-specific needs analyses can be found in the Afghanistan Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO).

Armed conflict and a deteriorating protection environment

Ongoing conflict continues to drive humanitarian needs across Afghanistan, inflicting high levels of civilian casualties and collateral damage on health and education facilities, as well as disrupting and destroying other life sustaining civilian infrastructure such as water, electricity and telecommunication systems. Violations of IHL and international human rights law (IHRL) occur frequently. The first nine months of 2018 alone registered a 46 per cent increase in the number of civilian casualties from suicide attacks;2 a 39 per cent increase in civilian casualties resulting from airstrikes,3 and a 153 per cent increase in aid workers killed and injured compared to the same period last year.4 Overall, 8,050 civilian casualties (2,798 deaths and 5,252 injuries) were recorded nationwide between January and September 2018.⁵ Health partners reported 85,477 traumarelated consultations between January and September – a 24 per cent increase on the same period in 2017.⁶ Traumatic amputations, many of which are now bilateral and trilateral, constitute a significant and growing burden on civilians.

The invisible toll of the conflict has been no less severe: 70 per cent of men do not feel safe when travelling to work, the mosque, health and education facilities or the market, with this figure as high as 95 per cent in Uruzgan and 92 per cent in Hilmand.⁷ Deprived of one of the two most fundamental human requirements - the need for safety and security – for almost four decades now, it is no surprise that people’s ratings of their own quality of life in Afghanistan are lower than any other population worldwide. When recently asked to rate their life-quality on a ladder scale where ‘0’ represents their worst possible life and ‘10’ their best possible life, people gave an average rating of 2.7 in 2018, down from 4.2 in 2016. This is the joint-lowest figure Gallup has recorded in any country since it began tracking these measures in 2006.

Operation(s)/ Webspace(s): 
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Original Publication Date: 
21 Dec 2018
Document type: 
Strategic Response Plan
Coordination hub(s): 
National Level Coordination