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Afghanistan Humanitarian Bulletin Issue 67 | 01 – 31 August 2017

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  • Fighting over control of eight district centres displaced more than 50,000 people in August.

  • More than two million people have been reached with assistance in the first six months of the year.

  • Girls and boys across the country are exposed to high levels of violence and often brutal punishments.

  • Skills taught in youth development centres improve women’s employment prospects and help them break with traditional gender roles.

  • The number of people targeted for assistance via the Cluster system in 2017 has been reduced from 5.7 to 3.6 million.

Fighting escalates over control of districts

The third week of August has been one of the most active in terms of armed clashes, according to security sources, and the whole month continued a trend of starkly intensified conflict across the country. Fighting between Non-State Armed Groups (NSAGs) and Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) over territorial control increasingly escalated around district centres, usually following attacks by NSAGs on surrounding checkpoints.

In August, NSAG attacked or fought over control of at least eight district centres in seven provinces (see table). From January to end of July, NSAGs had already attacked and taken control of more than a dozen district centres. All but two – Qala-e-Zal, Kunduz, and Sangin, Hilmand – were subsequently retaken by ANSF, often after heavy fighting including the military deploying reinforcements and pounding enemy positions with airstrikes.

Attacks on district centres displaced more than 50,000 people in August

Communities from the whole district often rely on the district centre for important basic services like health care, education or trade and when conflict reaches rural villages the district centres are often also the place where displaced families seek shelter.

When district centres come under attack, the direction of displacement changes and families chose to leave the centres: in August, more than 50,000 people were reportedly temporarily displaced from district centres, often finding shelter with relatives in neighbouring villages.

The high numbers of displaced people from Balamurghab and Ghormach, Badghis, are due to the fact that the defence of both district centres relied mostly on Afghan Local Police (ALP) or local, pro-Government armed groups. Their families fled pre-emptively in fear of retribution and punitive actions, in case the members of the NSAG should gain control.

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