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Last updated: December 2020

Kunar is located in eastern Afghanistan, on the Afghan-Pakistani border and has a population of approximately 499 000, mainly Pashtuns. The province is divided in 16 districts and borders Nuristan, Nangarhar, and Laghman. The main ethnic groups are Pashtuns, followed by Pashai and Nuristani. A national highway from Jalalabad passes through the districts of Nurgal, Chawkay, Narang, Asadabad, Shigal, and leads to Asmar.

Kunar is described as strongly controlled/influenced by the Taliban, as well as one of the border areas where ‘many foreign terrorist fighter groups operate and have established safe havens’. As of May 2020, Kunar was one of the 12 provinces where Al Qaeda was said to be covertly active. Sources also reported the presence of ISKP fighters or bases in western parts of the province.

According to LWJ, most of the districts in Kunar province were contested, with the exception of the district of the provincial capital, Asadabad, which was categorised as under government control or undetermined, and the district of Chapadara, which was categorised as under Taliban control.

ACLED collected data on 271 violent events in the period from 1 March 2019 to 30 June 2020 (average of 3.9 incidents per week), of which 164 were coded as ‘battles’, 100 as ‘explosions/remote violence’ and 7 as ‘violence against civilians’.

Examples of incidents include clashes between ISKP forces and Afghan security forces, as well as clashes between the Taliban and the ISKP. Battles mainly took place in Sarkani district. Airstrikes as well as military ground operations by Afghan security forces were reported in several districts, causing civilian casualties. ACLED also listed 21 incidents under the sub-category ‘shelling/artillery/missile attacks’, which included several cross-border incidents initiated by the Pakistani military forces.

Further impact on the civilian population included, for example, threats by insurgents to healthcare personnel in order to stop vaccination campaigns, including for polio.

UNAMA documented 256 civilian casualties (77 deaths and 179 injured) in 2019, representing 51 civilian victims per 100 000 inhabitants. This was a decrease of 36 % compared to 2018. The leading causes for the civilian casualties were ground engagements, followed explosive remnants of war and targeted/deliberate killings.

RS ranked Kunar in the category of provinces where the number of civilian casualties was between 26 and 50 for the first quarter of 2020, and between 0 and 25 for the second quarter.

In the period 1 March 2019 – 30 June 2020, 58 043 persons were displaced from the province of Kunar, over 45 000 of them within the province itself. No conflict-induced internal displacement from other provinces to Kunar was reported in this period.

Looking at the indicators, it can be concluded that ‘mere presence’ in the area would not be sufficient to establish a real risk of serious harm under Article 15(c) QD in the province of Kunar, however, indiscriminate violence reaches a high level, and, accordingly, a lower level of individual elements is required to show substantial grounds for believing that a civilian, returned to the territory, would face a real risk of serious harm within the meaning of Article 15(c) QD.


Main COI reference: Security situation 2020, 2.19