29 January 2016

The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) noticed significant security developments in Afghanistan in the second half of 2015, including a rise in civilian abductions on the roads and more unpredictable violence in the cities.

EASO’s new Country of Origin Information (COI) report on security situation in Afghanistan reveals that armed insurgent groups, such as the Taliban and Hezb-e Islami Afghanistan, have increasingly conducted large-scale attacks on the Afghan National Security Forces. The insurgents have been increasingly successful in taking control of and holding territory. This trend culminated in the events at the end of September 2015, when the northern city of Kunduz fell to the Taliban – the first time since 2001 that the Taliban was able to gain control over a provincial capital.

In these events, the civilian population was severely affected, including during the following counter-operations and retaliatory actions; a clear example was the US warplane attack against a Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Kunduz. A new development was the appearance of Islamic State on the Afghan security scene which led to atrocities against civilians, mainly in Nangarhar, but also in other provinces.

The reference period for the security report runs from 1 November 2014 until 31 October 2015. The numbers of violent incidents and civilian casualties in the first half of 2015 remained consistent with the same period in 2014.

ECRE recently reported that the security situation in Afghanistan calls into question deportation policies of EU Member States. Although there is a high EU-wide rate of Afghans being granted international protection of 70%, a number of EU countries have become increasingly restrictive in their policies towards Afghan asylum seekers, evidenced by a growing determination to deport them, despite ongoing security concerns and violence in the country. Afghan nationals make up the second largest group seeking asylum in Europe, with 56,700 first time applications, which includes a large number of unaccompanied and separated children.

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 29 January 2016. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.