This COI Focus aims to provide information on the security situation in Nangarhar province’s Jalalabad, Behsud and Surkhrod districts and is an update of both the COI Focus Afghanistan. Veiligheidssituatie Jalalabad, Behsud en Surkhrod and the Nangarhar chapter taken from the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) Country of Origin Information Report. Afghanistan: Security Situation, published on 25 June 2021. This report presents information from 1 February 2020 until 31 May 2021. If any developments significantly change the security situation in these districts, Cedoca will update this COI Focus as soon as possible. For a general introduction to the security situation in Afghanistan, reference is made to the EASO report listed above, published in September 2020.
This report follows the structure of the individual provincial chapters in the EASO Country of Origin Information Reports on the security situation in Afghanistan.
This report was written according to the EASO COI Report Methodology (June 2019) and the EASO COI Referencing Guide (June 2019).
One of Afghanistan’s five largest cities, Jalalabad has a strategic location and fulfils the role of regional capital of the eastern region of the country. Sources indicate that Jalalabad city extends beyond the Jalalabad district boundaries and comprises parts of surrounding districts, such as Behsud and Surkhrod.
Campaigns by Afghan and international forces, the Taliban and armed locals against ISKP have weakened, but not entirely wiped out the group. As in the past, ISKP again showed resilience and remained active in 2020 and 2021. In 2021, the group was still considered to be a threat, retaining urban (sleeper) cells in Jalalabad and elsewhere. Sources noted an increase in ISKP activity in Afghanistan, especially in the eastern region and in Jalalabad in early 2021.
Both the Taliban and the Afghan government were able to expand control in Nangarhar after their offensives against ISKP. The government maintained its control over Jalalabad and – almost entirely – over Behsud. Surkhrod district, however, was one of Nangarhar’s districts said to be mostly under Taliban control. After an initial calmer period in the wake of the signing of the Doha agreement between the US and the Taliban in February 2020, by the summer of 2020 the Taliban appeared to resume or increase its activities in districts such as Surkhrod. More Taliban activity was also noted in Surkhrod in March and April 2021.
Reflecting a countrywide phenomenon, the majority of anti-government attacks in Jalalabad in the reporting period were attributed to unidentified armed groups. The remaining were almost equally attributed to the Taliban and ISKP. In Surkhrod district, most were attributed to the Taliban.
Following a decrease in 2019, the number of civilian casualties in Nangarhar province documented by UNAMA decreased again in 2020 by 46 % compared to the previous year. Suicide attacks were the primary cause of civilian casualties in Nangarhar province in 2020. Detailed figures on civilian casualties in Jalalabad, Behsud and Surkhrod districts were not (made) available.
With 109 violent events coded by ACLED, Jalalabad ranked second in terms of districts with the highest number of security incidents in Nangarhar province between 1 February 2020 and 31 May 2021. IED-incidents remained the most prevalent type of violence in Jalalabad. Within Nangarhar province, Jalalabad was the district most affected by IED-incidents as well as by incidents of violence against civilians. Targeted attacks are not new to Jalalabad, but they increased in the reporting period, as in other places, like Kabul.
Jalalabad is also one of the large cities in Afghanistan affected by crime.
Between 1 February 2020 and 31 May 2021, thirteen violent events were registered in Behsud district and fifty in Surkhrod district. While violence in those two districts was mostly directed against security forces or insurgents, some of the incidents also caused civilian casualties. IED-incidents were the most prevalent type of violence in Behsud, while in Surkhrod most security incidents were armed clashes.
As sources only rarely mention the exact location of a violent incident within a certain district, the location of all incidents could not be determined or verified. ISKP claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in a part of Behsud district that is considered as belonging to the Jalalabad city region. Out of twelve incidents in Surkhrod district for which the exact location was mentioned and could be determined, eleven occurred outside the Surkhrod zone considered to be part of the Jalalabad city region.
No displacement due to conflict was registered from Jalalabad, Behsud and Surkhrod districts in the period under review, but all three districts hosted IDPs seeking refuge in Nangarhar province, mainly from within the province, but also from neighbouring Kunar province. Surkhrod received up to 40 % of all IDPs to Nangarhar in the reporting period. All three districts also host returnees.
A combination of rapid population growth, rural-urban migration and displacement is further increasing pressure on urban centres and leading to an ever-increasing demand for local facilities and basic services. The increasing population density is putting a strain on the existing services and infrastructures in the city of Jalalabad.
Jalalabad can only be reached by road from Kabul. The Kabul-Jalalabad Highway, a strategically important route, is notorious for its heavy traffic, and frequent accidents. Security incidents on the highway continued to be reported in the period under review.
The general security situation in Afghanistan is largely determined by a long-term, ongoing, internal armed conflict which has resulted in many Afghans being uprooted or seeking refuge in another country. In order to assess the need for international protection, the Commissioner General takes into account the fact that there are fundamental differences between the regions of Afghanistan when it comes to the security situation, the nature and intensity of the violence.