Read caption Firooz and his family left Afghanistan for Iran two years ago. One day, one of his older brothers got picked up by undercover police officers and the family was deported back to Afghanistan. His brother remains in Iran, while his father is in need of urgent medical treatment. Photo: NRC/Jim Huylebroek

Thousands displaced by Taliban winter advance in Faryab

Published 05. Jan 2017
“Thousands of civilians have been forced to suddenly flee their homes due to fighting in Faryab Province, and they urgently need humanitarian assistance in this bitter winter,” said Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) Country Director in Afghanistan, Kate O'Rourke.

Up to 1,800 families are estimated to have been displaced in the past 72 hours alone, as armed opposition forces advanced further through Faryab.

“During three days of fighting between Taliban and government forces, the Taliban advanced to Qara Ghawili village,” Salih Mohammad Salih, the Governor of Almar District told BBC Persian on 3 January.

As a hard winter in the region just started, there is an urgent need to address the basic humanitarian needs of these families, particularly emergency shelter, food, safe water, sanitation facilities, and basic health care. They also require protective services, such as family reunification and psychosocial support.

“NRC is surging additional staff to our Faryab office to provide assistance to those in need. We are working with other organisations and authorities to drive an emergency response,” said O’Rourke.  “Our field emergency team is meeting with displaced families to assess the precise scale and priorities of our response. Families have suffered terribly traumatic experiences.”

 “We were stuck in cross fire for a whole day. The next day, my three daughters and I could hardly manage to escape the fighting, but my husband, two sons and a daughter were left behind,” said Fatima, 45, mother of six, to Norwegian Refugee Council’s emergency team in Maimana.

Fatima and four other families have found shelter in a compound temporarily offered by community elders in the outskirts of Maimana.

Assadullah, another displaced man who arrived with his three daughters in Maimana, was separated from his wife and two sons amidst the chaos. He is now searching for news about the missing members of his family.

A possible counter-offensive is expected to displace hundreds more in the coming days, further exacerbating acute humanitarian needs in Faryab. 

  •      Conflict displacement has increased almost exponentially over the past five years; estimates indicate nearly 600,000 persons were internally displaced due to conflict over 2016 (source below). Over 2015 around 400,000 were newly internally displaced, while approximately 200,000 were newly displaced over 2013.


  •     The humanitarian community had initially projected and planned for just 250,000 IDPs at the beginning of 2016. 


  •      In September 2016, a Flash Appeal was launched for ‘1 Million People on the Move’, due to the unprecedented and unexpected increase in numbers of displaced persons in Afghanistan, both due to the conflict-induced internal displacement and the mass, spontaneous return of Afghan refugees from Pakistan. The Flash Appeal attempted to mobilise additional resources for life-saving assistance.


  •     In 2016, NRC provided emergency assistance to over 80,000 people internally displaced by conflict in Afghanistan, within two weeks of their displacement, in some of the hardest-to-reach areas of Afghanistan. 


  •      In total, over 2016, NRC directly assisted 300,000 displaced persons through its wider programme in Afghanistan, which includes legal assistance, shelter, and education in emergencies. NRC maintains ten offices across Afghanistan, including in Faryab.