In this COI Focus, Cedoca describes the security situation in the city of Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province in Eastern Afghanistan. This report covers the period between 1 February 2018 and 31 January 2019. The research was completed on 25 February 2019. This COI Focus is an update of the COI Focus Veiligheidssituatie in Jalalabad of 20 February 2018.
This COI Focus does not describe the present situation of the conflict in the whole of Afghanistan, nor the situation in Nangarhar province. Its central emphasis is on the analysis of the security situation in the city of Jalalabad. However, in some sections (for example regarding the typology of the violence), the situation in the district of Jalalabad and the surrounding districts of Behsud and Surkh-Rōd - north and west of the city of Jalalabad respectively – is also examined.
The city of Jalalabad is the fifth largest city in Afghanistan. It is an important commercial centre in eastern Afghanistan situated in a strategic position on various trade routes.
Between 1 February 2018 and 31 January 2019, 71 incidents were registered in the city of Jalalabad and in the district of the same name. More than half of these incidents were incidents involving IEDs, landmines and other explosive devices. The region of Jalalabad also struggles with (targeted) murders and criminality. Most attacks in the city were attributed to ISKP and, to a lesser extent, to the Taliban. Although the violence in Jalalabad mainly targets certain profiles, military or civilian, there are also regularly civilian casualties. Many civilian casualties are caused by suicide or complex attacks. In the period covered by this report, ISKP attacks targeted so-called “soft targets”, such as a cricket stadium, a training centre for midwives and a group of Sikhs and Hindus. In addition to ordinary criminality, the growing number of such attacks increased the feeling of insecurity in Jalalabad in 2018. At the beginning of August 2018, the Afghan government handed over control of the security in Jalalabad to the Afghan army.
During the period from 1 February 2018 to 31 January 2019, nine incidents took place in Behsud district and 30 incidents in Surkh-Rōd district. In both districts, the violence mainly targeted security personnel but there were also civilian casualties as collateral damage. The Taliban claimed responsibility for most of these attacks. Accurate statistics on civilian casualties in Jalalabad and in Behsud and Surkh-Rōd districts are not available.
Compared to the previous years, the number of IDPs in Nangarhar province has decreased. However, most IDPs in eastern Afghanistan still seek refuge in the city of Jalalabad and in Behsud and Surkh-Rōd districts. Research shows that displaced families in Jalalabad are confronted with a recurring pattern of problems: shortage of resources, limited access to basic facilities and lack of job opportunities. Due to the increasing population density, services and infrastructures in the city of Jalalabad are currently overburdened. Rents and school fees are increasing, and there is food insecurity.
From Kabul, Jalalabad can only be reached by road. In the period covered by this report and more specifically in July 2018, the Afghan army carried out operations along the main road between Kabul and Jalalabad in the Surobi (Kabul province) and Qarghayi district (Laghman province). The airport near the city is only used for military purposes and is sporadically attacked by rebels.
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.