Conflict last year has forced more than 700,000 Afghans to leave their homes and added to the 5.5 million people already displaced over previous years. Women and girls in particular are facing increasing vulnerabilities and protection risks.
The Taliban militant group regained control after international troops withdrew in August and the Afghan Government collapsed, prompting concern that they would reimpose a harsh interpretation of Islamic law that prohibits girls from attending school.
As the country teeters on the brink of systemic collapse, more than half the Afghan population is in dire need of humanitarian assistance and nearly all Afghans have now plunged into poverty.
Afghans are increasingly crossing the border into Iran and Pakistan, a trend that is likely to continue in the coming months. As needs continue to grow, failure to sustain and improve access to essential services, restore livelihoods, and effectively address the vulnerabilities of populations affected by the crisis could cause a surge in displacement and migration.
Without the funding to support a response –both humanitarian action and longer-term development assistance – economic and social conditions in Afghanistan will continue to spiral downwards, wiping out any development gains made over the past 20 years.
At the same time the UN human rights office OHCHR remains very alarmed over the continued disappearance of six people who were abducted in the Afghan capital Kabul in connection with recent women’s rights protests.
In the early evening of 19 January, Parwana Ibrahim Khil and her brother-in-law were abducted while travelling in Kabul. Later that same evening, Tamana Paryani and her three sisters were taken from a house in the city. On 16 January, both Ms. Khil and Ms. Paryani had taken part in peaceful demonstrations calling for the rights of women to be respected by the Taliban, who swept back into power last August.
Since then there have been reports coming in of house searches of other women who participated in protests. These reports have also brought into focus what appears to be a pattern of arbitrary arrests and detentions as well as torture and ill-treatment of civil society activists, journalists, and media workers, as well as former Government and security forces personnel in Afghanistan. Moreover, as control over dissent appears to be tightening, OHCHR continues to receive credible allegations of other gross human rights violations.
© WFP/Sadeq Naseri People waiting for food distribution in a remote district of Herat Province, Afghanistan.