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AFGHANISTAN: Humanitarian Access Snapshot (February 2021)

Key Access Costrains Issues:

During the reporting period covering February 2021, the HAG recorded 147 access impediments, compared to 180 incidents recorded during January.[1] Movement restrictions constituted 41 per cent of the access impediments, followed by violence against humanitarian staff and assets (26 per cent) and interference with humanitarian activities (17 per cent).
 
Interference in the implementation of humanitarian activities
During February, the HAG recorded at least 25 incidents involving interference in the implementation of humanitarian activities. NSAG-TB continued to author most incidents (20), followed by GOA (3) and ANSF (1), with one incident being authored by ACG. In the absence of a public statement by NSAG-TB on the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination, health partners in the northeastern region raised concern about provincial NSAG-TB in Takhar and Kunduz opposing the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination in areas under their control, while in Nimroz, NSAG-TB allegedly issued a letter stating their opposition to the rollout.
Since mid-February, at least eight NGO partners received a mail from an unknown individual, claiming to be a member of the NSAG-TB Military Commission. In the letter, partners were asked to hire NSAG-TB affiliated individuals and while the letter uses certain NSAG-TB insignia (crest, stamp), the letter template as well as the font used differs from authenticated letters from an NSAG-TB Commission. The author of the letter asks for confidentiality and not to share the letter with third parties. This is atypical for a letter issued by an official NSAG-TB Commission. Usually, their communication is not addressed to individual NGOs but rather to the broader community and further circulation of their communique is usually welcomed.
In the Western Region, two partners shared concerns about interference by government officials in their operations. In one case, government officials temporarily stopped a distribution requesting to add names to the beneficiary list and in another case, the partner was concerned that government officials partaking in distributions were taking pictures and using them for political purposes.
 
Levy Requests
In February, the HAG logged four levy requests, with all of them occurring in the north and northeastern regions. The four incidents highlight the increasing challenge for partners to find exemptions to levy requests. In one incident, trucks contracted to transport humanitarian goods were stopped at a NSAG-TB checkpoint and despite the drivers being equipped with a letter issued by NSAG-TB supposed to grant free passage, NSAG-TB members manning the checkpoint were asking for additional documents. In order to continue their travel, the drivers paid informal taxation. In a second incident, an IO staff member was approached by an NSAG-TB member asking for taxation and requesting for a meeting with representatives of the IO. It is interesting to note that the IO mainly operates in government-controlled areas and the suggested meeting location was in a government stronghold, indicating that levy requests no longer only occur in NSAG-TB controlled areas. In a third incident, an NGO decided to cancel a planned distribution after they were unable to negotiate a levy exemption with provincial NSAG-TB focal points, highlighting the negative impact of those requests on beneficiaries.
 
Military operations and Kinetic Activity
On 7 February, AAF conducted at least one airstrike, targeting an NSAG-TB gathering near a government-run school, which also serves as an NGO hub school. The school as well as an NGO-run clinic nearby sustained collateral damage. The incident highlights the continuous need for discussions on IHL and the protection of schools and health facilities.
Ongoing military activity in the Southern Region continued to impede humanitarian activities: One NGO was unable to deploy their mobile health teams to Panjwayi and Zheray districts due to IED presence along the roads and the closure of a health facility in Panjwayi due to ongoing fighting left 20’000 individuals without access to health services.
 
[1] In addition to the 155 incidents reported in the January snapshot, the HAG received late reports of an additional 25 incidents in January.
Operation(s)/ Webspace(s): 
Organization(s): 
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Cluster(s)/Sector(s): 
Original Publication Date: 
14 Mar 2021
Map/Infographic Type: 
Humanitarian Snapshot
Coordination hub(s): 
National Level Coordination