ecoi.net featured topic on Afghanistan: Security situation and socio-economic situation in Herat-City and Mazar-e Sharif

ecoi.net's featured topics offer an overview on selected issues. This featured topic covers the security situation and the socio-economic situation in Herat and Mazar-e Sharif. The featured topics are presented in the form of excerpts from documents, coming from selected sources. Compiled by ACCORD.

Please note: In ecoi.net’s English interface, the featured topics are presented in the form of direct quotations from documents. This may lead to non-English language content being quoted. German language translations/summaries of these quotations are available when you switch to ecoi.net’s German language interface.

1. Timeline of incidents in Herat district since January 2018
2. Timeline of incidents in Mazar-e Sharif district since January 2018
3. Socio-economic situation in Herat-City and Mazar-e Sharif
3.1. Food Supply
3.2. Health Care
3.3. Daily-wage labour in Herat
4. Sources

Please note: In ecoi.net’s English interface, the featured topics are presented in the form of direct quotations from documents. This may lead to non-English language content being quoted. German language translations/summaries of these quotations are available when you switch to ecoi.net’s German language interface.

Security situation and socio-economic situation in Herat-City and Mazar-e Sharif

An ACCORD query response on the security and socio-economic situation in Herat-City dated April 2020 can be found here (in German):

An ACCORD query response on the security and socio-economic situation in Mazar-e Sharif dated April 2020 can be found here (in German):

1. Timeline of incidents in Herat district since January 2020

2021

“On 25 April 2021, 1 former local policeman was shot and killed by unknown gunmen (assumed militants) in Herat city.” (ACLED, 6 May 2021) [i]

“On 11 April 2021, the Afghan commander of PD11 [police district 11] of Herat city, and two other Afghan soldiers were killed after a mine went of that was planted around the Karizak security checkpoint in PD11 of the city of Herat. No group has taken responsibility for the explosion.” (ACLED, 6 May 2021)

“On 8 April 2021, 2 civilians were killed by unknown gunmen (assumed militants) in Herat city.” (ACLED, 6 May 2021)

“On 29 March 2021, a former NDS [National Directorate of Security] officer was killed by unidentified gunmen in PD6 of the city of Herat.” (ACLED, 6 May 2021)

“On 22 March 2021, a Farsi district government official was killed by the Taliban in the city of Herat in the Hirat district, Herat, while on the way to the city for treatment. The official was taken from his motorbike by the Taliban and burned alive in front of his family.” (ACLED, 6 May 2021)

“On 12 March 2021, at least 7 civilians and 1 Afghan security personnel were killed while 36 civilians and 11 Afghan security personnel were wounded when a car bomb exploded near a police station in PD14 of Herat city. It's unclear who planted the bomb. Afghan officials blamed the Taliban as the militants denied they were behind the attack.” (ACLED, 6 May 2021)

“On 3 March 2021, at least 32 civilians were wounded during clashes between Habibullah Ghoryani militia members and police forces in PD12 of Herat city. 14 policemen were wounded. 2 of Ghoryani's guards were killed and 8 were arrested while he fled the area wounded.” (ACLED, 6 May 2021)

“On 22 February 2021, 2 NDS [National Directorate of Security] personnel were killed by Taliban militants in Sayed Mukhtar area, PD12, Herat city.” (ACLED, 6 May 2021)

“On 18 February 2021, 2 civilians were killed and 1 was wounded following an attack by unknown gunmen in the Said Mukhtar Agha area of PD12, Herat city. They were working as technicians for a company that sometimes repaired army vehicles. Some sources claimed they were communication workers.” (ACLED, 6 May 2021)

“On 7 February 2021, a civil society activist and former head of people's council of Injil district was killed in an armed attack by unidentified motorcyclists near a security check post in Herat city.” (ACLED, 6 May 2021)

“On 6 February 2021, 1 policeman was killed in a Taliban targeted attack in Baba Khaki area of Herat city. Fatalities coded as 1 (VoJ reported 1 fatality).” (ACLED, 6 May 2021)

“On 26 January 2021, 1 tribal elder was shot and killed by unknown gunmen in the Naw Abad area of Herat city.” (ACLED, 6 May 2021)

“On 20 January 2021, at least 3 soldiers were killed and 4 were wounded when unknown gunmen opened fire on their vehicle in the limits of PD9, Herat city.” (ACLED, 26 January 2021)

“On 19 January 2021, 5 Afghan security personnel were killed and wounded when their ranger pickup was hit by a Taliban-planted IED in the Gazergah area of Herat city. (Voice of Jihad reported unknown fatalities.)” [ACLED coded fatalities as 0] (ACLED, 26 January 2021)

2020

“On 27 December 2020, 1 civilian was shot and killed by unknown gunmen in the Metrah area of Herat city.” (ACLED, 26 January 2021)

“On 30 November 2020, 1 Afghan army soldier was killed and 4 wounded by unidentified gunmen in PD12 Herat city.” (ACLED, 26 January 2021)

“On 9 November 2020, 1 tribal elder was killed by unknown gunmen in PD15 of Herat city.” (ACLED, 26 January 2021)

“On 8 November 2020, unknown gunmen shot dead a prosecutor on his way to work in Herat city. Unclear who was behind the attack.” (ACLED, 26 January 2021)

“On 4 November 2020, at least 5 Afghan security personnel were killed and wounded when their tank was hit by a Taliban-planted IED in the Asferz Base area of Herat city. (Voice of Jihad reported unknown fatalities.)” [ACLED coded fatalities as 0] (ACLED, 26 January 2021)

“On 4 November 2020, 1 Afghan security personnel commander was killed following an ambush by Taliban militants in the Chaharda area of Herat city.” (reported by Voice of Jihad) [ACLED coded fatalities as 0] (ACLED, 26 January 2021)

“On 1 November 2020, 3 policemen were killed and 2 wounded in a bomb blast in the area of Payan Aab, PD10 of Herat city that targeted a police checkpoint. The explosion damaged 'dozens' of shops and houses in the nearby. No group has claimed the explosion.” (ACLED, 26 January 2021)

“On 29 October 2020, 1 policeman was killed following an attack by Taliban militants in PD9 of Herat city.” (ACLED, 26 January 2021)

“On 28 October 2020, 8 prisoners were killed and 12 more wounded in a prison riot between the inmates and the guards when the prisoners attempted to set a prison block on fire in Herat City. AFP said 7 prisoners died after they swallowed 'poisonous' pills stolen from the jail's clinic during the riot.” (ACLED, 26 January 2021)

“On 24 October 2020, 3 children were injured in a bomb blast in a village in the eastern part of Herat City, Herat. Unclear who planted the bomb.” (ACLED, 26 January 2021)

“On 21 October 2020, unknown gunmen killed a tribal elder in Police District 5 of Herat City.” (ACLED, 26 January 2021)

“On 19 October 2020, 1 security guard of a private school was shot and killed by unknown gunmen in PD9 of Herat city.” (ACLED, 26 January 2021)

“On 3 October 2020 an influential Arbaki member was killed in the city of Herat by Taliban [reported by Voice of Jihad [ii].” [ACLED coded fatalities as 0] (ACLED, 14 October 2020)

“On 13 September 2020, unidentified gunmen shot dead a traffic police officer in PD7 of Herat city.” (ACLED, 14 October 2020)

“On 28 August 2020, 4 civilians were wounded when a bomb exploded inside an ice cream shop in PD5 of Herat city. It's unclear who planted the bomb.” (ACLED, 14 October 2020)

“On 26 August 2020, 1 NDS [National Directorate of Security] member was killed while he was trying to defuse a bomb in PD13 of Herat city. It's unclear who planted the bomb.” (ACLED, 14 October 2020)

“On 25 August 2020, 1 soldier was shot and killed by unknown gunmen in of Herat city.” (ACLED, 14 October 2020)

“On 24 August 2020, 1 woman was killed and 4 civilians were wounded by a hand grenade which was thrown in their house in Herat city. It's unclear who threw it.” (ACLED, 14 October 2020)

“On 21 August 2020, 1 policeman was killed by unknown gunmen in the Gange village of PD7, Herat city.” (ACLED, 14 October 2020)

“On 11 August 2020, 5 Shiite civilians were killed and wounded by an IS-planted IED in Herat city.” [ACLED coded fatalities as 2, “due to the unclear nature of the casualties”] (ACLED, 14 October 2020)

“On 8 August 2020, 1 policeman was shot and killed by unknown gunmen in the Nasim Abad village of PD11, Herat city.” (ACLED, 14 October 2020)

“Around 5 August 2020 (as reported), unidentified armed men threw hand grenades at civilians in Herat district, injuring 15 people.” (ACLED, 14 October 2020)

“On 3 August 2020, an unidentified gunman shot and killed an Afghan police officer in the PD2 of Herat city, Hirat, Herat.” (ACLED, 14 October 2020)

“On 31 July 2020, at least 14 civilians were wounded by an explosion in the Tank-e-Mawlawi area of Herat city. It's unclear who planted the bomb.” (ACLED, 14 October 2020)

“On 29 July 2020, 3 civilians, Shiite Muslims, were killed and 5 were wounded when an IS-planted bomb attached to their minibus exploded in the Mehal-e-Haji Abbas village, PD12 of Herat city.” (ACLED, 14 October 2020)

“On 17 July 2020, Taliban fighters attacked Afghan police PD6 headquarters of Herat city, Herat, leaving 1 fighter, 2 policemen, and 3 civilians dead, and 4 others injured.” (ACLED, 14 October 2020)

“Around 16 July 2020 (as reported), 1 Taliban militant was killed by ANDSF forces in Herat city.” (ACLED, 14 October 2020)

“On 20 June 2020, 3 security guards were killed, 3 other guards and 1 civilian were wounded when a roadside bomb targeted Herat's province Customs chief outside Herat city.” (ACLED, 14 October 2020)

“On 2 May 2020, 1 policeman was killed and 1 was wounded when they were shot by unknown gunmen in PD 12 of Herat city.” (ACLED, 26 May 2020)

“On 30 April 2020, a judge of a provincial court was killed by unknown gunman in PD12 of Herat city. The gunman was arrested later.” (ACLED, 26 May 2020)

“Security measures: On 25 March 2020, a lockdown took effect in Farah, Herat, and Nimruz provinces to limit the spread of the coronavirus. These provinces are close to Iran.” (ACLED, 26 May 2020)

“On 18 March 2020, Taliban militants ambushed and killed 1 police officer, in Herat city.” (ACLED, 26 May 2020)

“On 15 March 2020, Taliban militants ambushed and killed 1 Afghan military special forces commander, in the Shidai area of PD8, Herat city.” (ACLED, 26 May 2020)

“On 1 March 2020, a Taliban fighter killed his mother, a female police officer (off-duty), in PD11 of Herat city.” (ACLED, 26 May 2020)

“On 10 February 2020, 1 policeman was killed by Taliban militants on a motorbike in PD 2 of Herat city.” (ACLED, 26 May 2020)

“On 7 February 2020, 1 police commando commander was mistakenly killed by Afghan soldiers when he didn't stop his vehicle at a check point in the Nawabad area of Herat city.” (ACLED, 26 May 2020)

“On 9 January 2020, 1 soldier (Taliban reported an NDS [National Directorate of Security] employee) was killed following an ambush by Taliban militants in the Abdullah Abad area of Herat city.” (ACLED, 14 January 2020)

2. Timeline of incidents in Mazar-e Sharif district since January 2020

2021

“On 21 April 2021, 1-2 government employees were killed and 2 of of their family members were wounded when unknown gunmen (assumed militants) attacked a house in Mazar-e Sharif city, Balkh.” (ACLED, 6 May 2021)

“On 21 April 2021, 1 policeman was killed by unknown gunmen (assumed militants) while guarding Balkh university in Mazar-e Sharif city, Balkh.” (ACLED, 6 May 2021)

“On 18 April 2021, an Afghan military airforce pilot was killed by unidentified gunmen on motorcycles in the Mazar-e-Sharif city, Balkh.” (ACLED, 6 May 2021)

“On 3 April 2021, 2 civilians, including a child, were killed, and a police officer was wounded, in an explosion in the city of Mazar-e Sharif, Balkh. The explosive had been placed in a flower pot that went off when a police vehicle was passing by. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.” (ACLED, 6 May 2021)

“On 21 February 2021, unknown gunmen (assumed militants) attacked and killed a man working in a bakery in PD3 [police district 3], Mazar-e Sharif City, Balkh province.” (ACLED, 6 May 2021)

“On 16 February 2021, a shopkeeper was shot and killed by an armed man wearing military uniform (assumed miltants) in Darwaza-e Balkh area of Mazar-e Sharif city, Balkh province. The attacker was arrested by the police.” (ACLED, 6 May 2021)

“On 16 February 2021, 1 civilian was killed and 1 wounded in fire exchange between two illegal armed groups (assumed militants) in PD8, Mazar-e Sharif city, Balkh province.” (ACLED, 6 May 2021)

“On 9 February 2021, 1 child was killed by unknown gunmen in the Kart-e-Bokhdi area of PD8, Mazar-e Sharif city, Balkh.” (ACLED, 6 May 2021)

“On 27 January 2021, 1 tribal elder was shot and killed by unknown gunmen in PD9 of Mazar-e Sharif city, Balkh.” (ACLED, 6 May 2021)

“On 12 January 2021, 1 civilian, son of Independent Human Rights Commission head of northern Balkh province, was kidnapped by unknown gunmen in Mazar-e Sharif city, Balkh. His body was found in PD9 of the city on 13 January.” (ACLED, 6 May 2021)

“12 January: A vehicle transferring female soldiers working in Shaheen Army Corps was attacked by unknown gunmen in the Fifth Police District of Mazar-e-Sharif City, the provincial capital, killing two soldiers and wounding three others, including two women and one driver.” (NYT, 21 January 2021) [iii]

“3 January: A police officer was shot and killed by unknown gunmen in the Khaled Bin Waleed area of Mazar-e-Sharif, the provincial capital. The attackers managed to escape from the area.” (NYT, 21 January 2021)

“3 January: A former jihadi commander was shot and killed inside a mosque in the Fourth Police District of Mazar-e-Sharif. The attackers managed to escape from the area.“ (NYT, 21 January 2021)

2020

“On 25 November 2020, 1 local police commander was shot and killed by unknown gunmen in the limits of PD5 of Mazar-e Sharif city, Balkh.” (ACLED, 26 January 2021)

“Around 22 November 2020 (as reported), 3 Afghan security personnel were wounded in Taliban-planted bomb blast that hit their vehicle in Mazar-e Sharif city, Balkh province.” (ACLED, 26 January 2021)

“Around 6 November 2020 (as reported), 2 policemen were wounded when their vehicle was hit by Taliban-planted IEDs in Mazar-e Sharif district, Balkh.” (ACLED, 26 January 2021)

“Around 3 November 2020 (as reported), two Taliban-planted IEDs exploded on the vehicles were carrying the pro-government local militia in the city of Mazar-e Sharif, Balkh. 2 militia men were wounded in the explosion.” (ACLED, 26 January 2021)

“Around 3 November 2020 (as reported), 1 civilians was wounded in a bomb blast that was planted in a bicycle in Alokozay square of Mazar-e Sharif city in Balkh. Security officials blamed the Taliban for the attack.” (ACLED, 26 January 2021)

“On 5 October 2020, Balkh governor's former driver was killed by unknown attackers in PD 4 area of Mazar-e Sharif City, Balkh.” (ACLED, 14 October 2020)

“On 22 September 2020, unidentified gunmen abducted the head of the moneychangers union in Mazar-e Sharif city, Mazar-e Sharif, Balkh. Resulting in dozens of moneychangers closing their shops in protest for the lack of security.” (ACLED, 14 October 2020)

“On 19 September 2020, 1 civilian, a woman, was killed and 5 civilians were wounded by a bomb in PD1 of Mazar-e Sharif city, Balkh. It's unclear who planted the bomb. Target was Afghan Military Forces.” (ACLED, 14 October 2020)

“On 30 August 2020, 1 policeman was shot and killed by unknown gunmen in PD9 of Mazar-e Sharif city, Balkh.” (ACLED, 14 October 2020)

“On 20 August 2020, unidentified armed men attacked Afghan Public Protection Forces in the Rig area connecting Mazar-e Sharif to Hairatan highway of Balkh province, killing 1 officer and injuring 1 Uzbek citizen.” (ACLED, 14 October 2020)

“Detonation: On 20 August 2020, an unidentified armed suicide bomber was killed after his explosives detonated in Mazar-e Sharif district, Balkh. It is unclear if the bomb detonated by mistake or intentionally. No further information.” (ACLED, 14 October 2020)

“On 1 July 2020, at least 1 civilian and 1 policeman were killed, 5 civilians and 4-5 ANDSF members were wounded by 2 IEDs in PD3 of Mazar-e Sharif city, Balkh. The policeman died the next morning.” (ACLED, 14 October 2020)

“Around 28 June 2020, 3 civilians, employees of a construction company, were killed by unknown gunmen in Mazar-e Sharif city, Balkh.” (ACLED, 14 October 2020)

“On 23 May 2020, the house of a pro-government militia commander was struck by an IED in Mazar-e Sharif district, Balkh. Casualties unknown.” [ACLED coded fatalities as 0] (ACLED, 14 October 2020)

“On 16 March 2020, a bomb suspected to be planted by Taliban militants killed 1 policeman and wounded 1-2 policemen and 3 civilians, in PD8 of Mazar-e Sharif city, Balkh.” (ACLED, 26 May 2020)

“On 14 January 2020, a bomb planted by an unidentified armed group killed 2 children, in PD9 of Mazar-e Sharif city, Balkh. 7 civilians and the governor's bodyguard were wounded by a subsequent explosion when they arrived to the scene.” (ACLED, 26 May 2020)

“On 4 January 2020, 1 civilian was killed and 2-3 were wounded by an explosion in the PD10 in the limits of Mazar-e Sharif city, Balkh. It's unclear who planted the bomb.” (ACLED, 14 January 2020)

3. Socio-economic situation in Herat-City and Mazar-e Sharif

The following information focuses on the Afghan population in general and not specifically on the most vulnerable groups, such as internally displaced persons (IDPs) and returnees, whose situation may differ significantly. (See e.g. ACCORD, 7 December 2018)

The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) published a report on Key socio-economic indicators for Afghanistan, with a focus on Kabul City, Mazar-e Sharif and Herat City which offers background information on Kabul City, Herat City and Mazar-e Sharif; internal mobility; economic climate; employment; other topics:

EASO – European Asylum Support Office: Afghanistan; Key socio-economic indicators; Focus on Kabul City, Mazar-e Sharif and Herat City, August 2020
https://www.ecoi.net/en/file/local/2037416/2020_08_EASO_COI_Report_Afghanistan_Key_Socio_Economic_Indicators_Forcus_Kabul_Citry_Mazar_Sharif_Herat_City.pdf

3.1 Food Supply

FEWS NET provides food security maps for Afghanistan on its website dating back to July 2009 (FEWS NET, no date (a)). Below is the map of the forecast for the period June to September 2021. According to the map, in the period June to September 2021 Herat district reaches in parts second level phase (“stressed”) and in parts third level phase 3 (“crisis”), of the classification system used by FEWS NET (see below for explanation). Mazar-e-Sharif reaches phase 2 of the classification system (“stressed”).(FEWS NET, April 2021) [iv]

In phase 1 of the 5-level scale, also called “minimal”, households are able to meet essential food and non-food needs without engaging in atypical and unsustainable strategies to access food and income. In phase 2, also called "stressed", households have minimally adequate food consumption but are unable to afford some essential non-food expenditures without engaging in stress-coping strategies. Phase 3, also known as "crisis", households either have food consumption gaps which are reflected by high or above-usual acute malnutrition; or are marginally able to meet minimum food needs but only by depleting essential livelihood assets or through crisis-coping strategies. In Phase 4, “emergency”, households either have large food consumption gaps resulting in very high acute malnutrition; or are able to mitigate those gaps only by employing emergency livelihood strategies and asset liquidation. Phase 5 of the scale indicates “famine”: an extreme lack of food or other basic needs even though coping strategies are being employed; starvation, death, destitution and levels of extremely critical acute malnutrition are observable. (FEWS NET, no date (b))

June – September 2021

(FEWS NET, April 2021)

The World Food Programme (WFP) regularly publishes a data set on food prices in Afghanistan via Humanitarian Response [v]. The data set includes the monthly retail prices of low quality rice, wheat and bread as well as the average daily wage of qualified and non-qualified, non-agricultural labour (WFP, 24 January 2021) [vi]. The following graphs show the monthly trend of food prices from January 2020 to April and the ratio between the daily wage of the unqualified labour force and the quantities of basic food products that can be purchased in Herat City.

(Based on WFP, 6 May 2021)

(Based on WFP, 6 May 2021)

Current data on Mazar-e Sharif is not available, the last entry in the WFP table on Food Prices is of April 2020:

(Based on WFP, 24 January 2020)

(Based on WFP, 24 January 2020)

For information on the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic up to April 2020 within the cities of Herat and Mazar-e Sharif, see the two ACCORD query responses mentioned above, ACCORD, 23 April 2020; and ACCORD, 30 April 2020.

“The impact of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown had disastrous effects on the livelihoods of Afghan citizens. Due to the lockdown, many people lost jobs and income. Price inflation on basic goods such as oil and potatoes deepened the economic hardship felt by a significant proportion of Afghanistan’s population. According to Biruni Institute data, 6 million people lost their jobs due to the pandemic.” (HelpAge International, September 2020, p. 2) [vii]

“In urban areas, the currently ongoing winter season is a time of relatively low economic activity. This is prolonging negative impacts of COVID-19 on the economy, with labor availability, wages, and remittances remaining below average levels. At the same time, food prices remain above average. Throughout the projection period [February to September 2021], increased economic activity is expected to improve access to income for poor households, with Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes expected to improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in the May to September period.” (FEWS NET, February 2021, p. 1)

“After reaching the highest levels recorded during the past four years in May 2020 and declining somewhat in subsequent months, wheat flour prices have generally remained stable at the national level since November 2020, likely due to stability in exports from Kazakhstan. As of January 2021, wheat flour prices remained 12 percent higher than the same time last year and 27 percent higher than the four-year average. However, the prices of other basic food items have increased in recent months as the lean season progresses and households increase reliance on markets to meet their food needs. The higher food prices are also partly associated with the government’s ongoing Dester khawan-e-Mili COVID-19 relief program. Under this program, communities buy food such as wheat flour, cooking oil, rice, and beans in bulk quantities from local markets and distribute packages to households.” (FEWS NET, February 2021, pp. 2-3)

“[…] [A]verage prices of vegetable oil for cooking increased eight percent between December [2020] and January [2021] and remained 34 percent above average. Similarly, average prices of mixed beans are around 17 to 19 percent higher than last year and average. In contrast, prices of rice, the second most important staple food, mostly remained stable throughout 2020 […].“ (FEWS NET, February 2021, p. 3)

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS) in a February 2021 publication provides a chart that shows the “Purchasing power for laborers, defined by the ratio of casual labor wages (1 day) against the cost of wheat flour (kgs), January 2021 compared with the four-year average” by province (FEWS NET, February 2021, p. 4):

(FEWS NET, February 2021, p. 4)

3.2 Health Care

“In a 2018 report the World Bank concluded that over 2004-2010 health care services showed major improvements in Afghanistan, while in the period of 2011-2016 improvements continued at a slower pace. The report added that the provinces with high performing health facilities in 2003–2010 were Baghlan, Faryab, Herat, Jawzjan, Khost, Kunar, Laghman, Logar, Nuristan and Paktika, whereas in the period of 2011-2016 health facilities were functioning best in Badakhshan, Balkh, Daykundi, Farah, Faryab, Helmand, Nangarhar, Paktiya, Saripul and Zabul with Faryab being the only high-performing province during both periods. […]

According to UNOCHA, medical workers and health facilities are most affected by security incidents and direct violence amongst all aid workers and humanitarian infrastructure in Afghanistan. Health personnel are being harassed, detained, kidnapped and killed. Many people in Afghanistan lack access to health care due to the conflict, and trauma-care is regarded as one of the most critical gaps remaining in Afghanistan’s public health care. Medical facilities are increasingly a target of military attacks” (EASO, April 2019, S. 45-46) [viii]

“Around 30 per cent of the population has limited access to basic health services within a two-hour travel radius. The fragile health system is further overburdened by mass casualty incidents and recurrent outbreaks of communicable diseases, as well as a high burden of non-communicable diseases and malnutrition. Community health facilities are overwhelmed due to the spread of COVID-19. Continuation of essential health services is necessary to reduce morbidity and mortality.” (OCHA, 20 May 2020, p. 3) [ix]

“The number of new COVID-19 cases reported daily in Afghanistan has remained lower in recent months, on average, relative to the peak period in May/June 2020. According to the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH), a total 55,518 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2,428 associated deaths were reported in Afghanistan as of February 16, 2021. The bulk of these cases were reported in Kabul (17,251 cases), Hirat (9,152 cases), Balkh (3,371 cases), Nangarhar (2,542 cases), and Kandahar (2,481 cases) provinces as of February 17, 2021. A high share of these were reported in urban areas. The total in these provinces makes almost 65 percent of the total confirmed cases in Afghanistan. However, due to limited testing capacity in Afghanistan, underreporting of cases is expected.” (FEWS NET, February 2021, p. 2)

3.3 Daily-wage labour in Herat and casual labour in general

On 3 December 2020 Reza Kazemi [x] published an article on daily-wage labour in Herat on the Afghanistan Analysts Network :

“How many people in Herat – and countrywide – currently work for daily wages is not known. […] The prevalence of daily-wage labour is partially a result of massive population movements – particularly the influx of tens of thousands of people displaced mostly by conflict between 2012 and 2019 […]. These population movements, in particular of internally displaced persons (IDPs), have made Herat province, primarily its capital Herat city, an increasingly difficult space for living and working. Many IDPs and returnees from Iran have resorted to daily-wage labour as their main, if not only, chance to earn money, according to the author’s conversations with labourers, including returnees, long-term residents and an official from Herat’s Labour and Social Affairs Directorate […]. In an interview with AAN, Zubair Rauf, an official at Herat’s Labour and Social Affairs Directorate, listed seven sar-e gozars in and around the city where daily-wage labourers gather, one of which, he said, has become a hotspot for IDPs from Badghis province looking for work. He said the number of labourers gathering fluctuated, depending on the season, with numbers tending to increase towards autumn and winter when agricultural and other work, for example in brick kilns, decreases. However, he said that each sar-e gozar was frequented by an average of 400 to 500 labourers on a daily basis throughout the year. For these parts of the city alone, that adds up to several thousand people trying to get work every day.“ (AAN, 3 December 2020) [xi]

“[…] [C]asual labor wages are at minimum levels recorded in the past four years of monitoring. In January 2021, wages at the national level were four to five percent lower than last year and the four-year average. Similarly, availability of casual labor opportunities was around 20 to 21 percent lower than last year and the five-year average according to WFP data. Though availability is higher than during the peak of COVID-19 restrictions around May 2020 (when an average of 1.4 days of work were available per week), current levels of around 1.7 days per week are the second lowest recorded since January 2014. Both casual labor wages and availability typically decrease during winter. Assuming a casual laborer works at the January average of 1.7 days available per week and earns the average of 301 AFN per day, the worker would earn enough to buy only one third of a one-month package of basic food items at January prices. In comparison, at average levels of labor availability, wage rates and food prices, a casual laborer could buy half of the package. This translates into a reduction in purchasing power of 35 percent compared to the average, driven by reduced wages, reduced labor availability, and increased food prices. This has significantly impacted households who rely on casual labor as a main source of income, particularly in urban areas. Similarly, purchasing power in January as measured by the terms of trade between casual labor wages against wheat flour prices was around 25 percent below average at the national level and below average in every province.” (FEWS NET, February 2021, p. 3)

“Due to the general economic slowdown, availability of non-agricultural labor opportunities – particularly in main urban markets – is expected to be below-average in the outlook period [February – September 2021]. Availability of agricultural labor opportunities from May to September 2021 is also expected to be below average in areas impacted by below-average agricultural production.” (FEWS NET, February 2021, p. 8)

4. Sources:

(all links accessed 27 January 2021, except if otherwise noted)

This featured topic was prepared after researching within time constraints. It is meant to offer an overview on an issue and is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status, asylum or other form of international protection. Chronologies are not intended to be exhaustive. Every quotation is referred to with a hyperlink to the respective document.