The purpose of this report is to provide relevant information for the assessment of international protection status determination, including refugee status and subsidiary protection. In particular, it is intended to inform the update of the Country Guidance on Afghanistan April 2022. The terms of reference can be found in Annex 2.
This report was drafted by Austrian Centre for Country of Origin and Asylum Research and Documentation (ACCORD) as mentioned in the Acknowledgements section. This report is produced in line with the EASO COI Report Methodology (2019)2 and the EASO COI Writing and Referencing Style Guide (2019).3 Defining the terms of reference The terms of reference were defined by EUAA and were based on inputs on information needs from country of origin information (COI) and policy experts in EU+ countries within the framework of a Country Guidance development on Afghanistan. The terms of reference are available in Annex 2: Terms of Reference.
In accordance with the EASO COI Report Methodology, the information gathered is a result of research using public, specialised paper-based and electronic sources. The reference period is from 1 December 2021 until 30 June 2022. Some additional information was added during the finalisation of this report in response to feedback received during the quality control process, until 4 August 2022.
To ensure that the drafters respected the EASO COI Report Methodology, a review was carried out by COI specialists from the countries and organisations listed as reviewers in the Acknowledgements section. All comments made by the reviewers were taken into consideration and most of them were implemented in the final draft of this report.
Sources In accordance with the EASO COI Report Methodology the content of this report relies on a range of different open-source material. Amongst others, the report draws from the Humanitarian Needs Overview Afghanistan published by UNOCHA4 , a study published by Silvia Mila Arlini and Melissa Burgess written for Save the Children5 , an UNHCR multi sectoral rapid assessment covering household in all 34 provinces6 , and several publications from the World Food Programme7 .
The local Afghan media outlet Hasht-e Subh is used as a source in the report, although a shift in the reporting tone was noted during the drafting exercise which became more critical of the Taliban, especially on events taking place in Panjsher Province. Due to difficulties assessing the reliability of this source, case-by-case assessments have been made on the inclusion of reports from Hasht-e Subh. Particular care has been taken on topics related to resistance groups involving Panjsher Province, and the Taliban’s interactions with the local population of this area as well as with Tajiks in general. Reporting from Hasht-e Subh was often uncorroborated. Efforts to corroborate the information have been made but were not always possible.
All sources are outlined in Annex 1: Bibliography.
Structure and use of the report
The report is structured in line with the Terms of Reference. The first chapter provides background information on Afghanistan; chapters two to seven provide an overview of key socio-economic indicators for Afghanistan and Kabul City, chapter eight covers child specific issues, chapter nine provides information on networks of support and chapter ten deals with mobility and travel in the country. In addition, most chapters also include subsections on the situation of women-headed households, as well as on the situation of IDPs and returnees.
In this report the Afghan authorities operating under the Taliban (since August 2021) are described as the de facto authorities, as the announced state or interim government have not been internationally recognised. For readability, specific ministries or ministers operating under the Taliban are referred to as, for example, the ‘Taliban Ministry of Interior’ or the ‘Taliban Minister of Foreign Affairs’. Persons working within lower-level authorities, who have been appointed by the Taliban or have returned to work since the takeover are not routinely referred to de facto state employees or Taliban officials, but efforts had been made to give clear context in which capacity these persons are working.
The administration of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, that collapsed amid the Taliban takeover on 15 August 2021, is either referred to by its official name or as ‘the previous government’. In cases where the reports refer to the previous government of the Taliban of the 1990s, this is indicated in the text.
Footnoted citations for documents published by Afghan authorities (typically previously cited as ‘Afghanistan’) are aligned with this terminology. This is to ensure a clear distinction between publications made by the previous elected Afghan government and publications published under the current de facto authorities.
Due to the Taliban takeover in August 2021, research limitations during the drafting of this report were observed. These challenges included: reduced and restricted media coverage, closing of local media outlets and fleeing of journalists, censorship, political interference from the Taliban in the work of journalists, threats and violence toward media workers and outlets, and difficulties verifying source/information reliability and corroborating information, especially from social media sources.8 Efforts have been made to locate reliable and corroborated information where possible given the limits.
Regarding population figures, there is a ‘lack of reliable current disaggregated population data at provincial and district level’. 9 The last national census was conducted in 1979. The numbers published by the de facto Taliban authorities in 2022 are based on the household listing of the years 2003-2005.