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F U S I O N
C E N T R E
Week 23 04 June 2013
Comprehensive Information on Complex Crises
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
Economic Development Governance & Rule of Law Security & Force Protection Social & Strategic Infrastructure
This document provides an overview of developments in Afghanistan from 21 May – 03 June 2013, with hyperlinks to source material highlighted in blue and underlined in the text. For more information on the topics below, or other issues pertaining to events in Afghanistan, contact the members of the Afghanistan Team by visiting www.cimicweb.org/cmo/afg.
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Afghanistan and Australia establish a joint trade council to boost bilateral trade. The American University promotes networking among Afghan businesswomen. Qayum Karzai plans to run in the 2014 Afghan presidential election. Britain will grant a visa package to up to 600 Afghan interpreters. Insurgents storm the ICRC office in Jalalabad. Taliban launch a coordinated attack against the IOM office in Kabul. The United States fails to deliver on promises to increase the Dahla Dam Reservoir. UNEP warns that Afghanistan’s water resources are under stress.
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everal high-ranking Afghan officials, including ministers, deputy ministers and governors from all provinces, attended a conference on 28 May to discuss the upcoming fouryear economic plan, reports Wadsam. Afghan Minister of Economy Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal cited various improvements made in different economic sectors but also stressed the need for additional developments in electricity, agriculture, road construction and maintenance, potable water, and the establishment of markets and expansion of investments. According to Arghandiwal these elements should be incorporated into the four-year economic plan in hopes of mitigating the economic risks that Afghanistan may face after 2014. The plan will be submitted to the Council of Ministers for approval within a month and a half. Lingering security concerns within Afghanistan are slowing or halting foreign projects and discouraging foreign investments, according to Tolo News. The Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries believes the government is not working seriously enough to provide security. A reduction of the current high security risks in Afghanistan is vital to make investment in the country appealing. Recently, the chief of Marriott Hotels in the Middle East said they have halted construction of their, USD 80 million, five-star hotel due to security concerns. Khan Jan Alokozai, Deputy Director of the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI), stated, “There is no doubt, this [security issues] has caused a negative impact on the production and investments and that our country is getting closer to experiencing an economic recession. Security concerns, abductions have badly affected the investments in the country.” In an effort to boost bilateral cooperation and trade, Afghanistan and Australia established a joint trade council, states Pajhwok Afghan News. In an official ceremony held in Kabul, the Australian ambassador to Afghanistan Jon Philip also stated that he would like to see Australian aid to Afghanistan’s agricultural se ctor grow from AUD 180 million to AUD 200 million after 2014. The Insurance Department of the Afghan Ministry of Finance announced on 26 May that three additional insurance companies will begin operating in Afghanistan, writes Wadsam. The announcement comes amid concerns about the underdevelopment of the insurance sector within
the country. ACCI Executive Director Mobhammd Qurban Haqjo stated that an absence of proper insurance laws and public awareness were the main factors behind the weakness in the insurance sector. Currently, there are only four private insurance companies and one national insurance company operating inside Afghanistan. The culture of insurance is currently limited to the business and construction sectors and is not widespread among the general public. As the use of mobile phones in Afghanistan has radically increased during the last decade, so has the use of products based on this technology. For instance, according to a report by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the use of mobile money technology, wherein customers may store money digitally in lieu of carrying cash, is gaining popularity. If mobile phone usage continues to grow in Afghanistan, a country with over eighteen million mobile phone users currently, the use of mobile money will potentially alter the way in which transactions are conducted. Such technology can be used to distribute salaries and social service benefits, pay bills, and complete business and personal transactions without the need for cash. In similar news, the Afghan government launched a programme known as DEWAE designed to foster a national culture of innovation in the field of information technology, reports a United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan’s press release. The initiative, backed by the World Bank, seeks to harness new technologies that facilitate efficiency in government bureaus Those generating the best ideas may garner cash awards in the four categories of mobile technology, mobile government, young technologists, and innovators and information and communication technology (ICT) champions. The American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) in Kabul inaugurated the International Centre for Afghan Women’s Economic Development (ICAWED) on 25 May, highlights Wadsam. The purpose of this centre is to “provide a networking platform for Afghan businesswomen, female entrepreneurs and associations to coordinate and share ideas on the development of Afghanistan’s economy”. The US Deputy Ambassador to Afghanistan Tina Kaidanow stated at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, “Afghanistan’s future will depend on whether women are able to live up to their full potential in every sector of Afgha n society.” This new centre will house services provided by various non-governmental organisations working on women’s issues in Afghanistan, such as the US -Afghan Women’s Council, the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Initiative and AUAF’s professional developmen t programmes devoted to women’s empowerment. The centre will offer training for women in the two critical areas of information and communication technology and industries indigenous to Afghanistan. The indigenous industry critical area will focus on bringing industries to scale and market through development of supply chains and logistics. Additional news regarding economic development in Afghanistan from the last two weeks is summarised below: Mohammad Asif Rahimi, Afghan Minister of Agriculture, stated that more than four tonnes of saffron where exported from Afghanistan in the last year, reports Bakthar News. The minister stated that there had been a 120 kg increase in exports of the crop last year compared to 2011. Rahimi also noted that the crop was exported to the United States, Germany, Italy, and Spain at USD 1600 per kg. Saffron may prove to be a viable alternative to poppy production for some Afghan farmers in the future. Exports have increased at Hairatan dry port, according to Tolo News. As of March 2013, exports from Afghanistan using Hairatan increased by 67 per cent compared to last year. Meanwhile, imports to the country have shown a decrease of 46 per cent compared to the previous year. Mohammad Yaqub Zazai, head of the Hairatan port services office cited the effects of high import tariffs and the disappearance of goods at the port as the primary factors behind this decline.
Governance & Rule of Law
fghan President Hamid Karzai’s older brother, Qayum Karzai, announced his intention to run in the 2014 Afghan presidential election in a bid to maintain political power within the country’s most powerful family, reports Reuters. According to President Karzai’s younger brother, Mahmoud Karzai, Qayum will officially announce his candidacy soon. According to Kabul based political analysts, President Karzai will likely endorse his brother’s bid for the presidency to ensure he would not be scrutinised for any misdeeds during his tenure as a leader. Meanwhile, other analysts suggest that the lack of President Karzai’s support to Qayum would signal a family rift. According to Mahmoud Karzai, if Qayum becomes the next president, fighting rampant corruption will be his main priority, adding “it [corruption] has defamed us to the whole world.” In related news, President Karzai dispelled ru mours that he will attempt to stay in power beyond April 2014 presidential elections, stating there is “no circumstance that will allow me to stay as president”, highlights The New York Times. During Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s visit to India, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee expressed his commitment to Afghanistan during the transition period, noting that India is prepared to expand bilateral assistance to Afghanistan in areas of institution-building, training and equipment provision, reports Daily Outlook Afghanistan. Mukherjee called for strengthening and deepening of relations between the two countries “in all areas as prescribed in the Strategic Partnership Agreement.” During the meeting, President Karza i evaluated the relations between the two countries as “greater than any time before”. In addition, surveys reportedly indicate that Afghans rank India as one the most popular countries. Karzai also disclosed that he came to India with a “wish list” of military equipment he hoped India could provide to Afghanistan, adds Indian Express. Meanwhile, Karzai’s diplomatic outreach to India has evoked concerns in Pakistan, reports The New York Times. President Karzai dismissed Pakistani concerns by noting that Afghanistan’s rel ations with India “will not be at the cost of Pakistan or a cause for worry for Pakistan,” further adding that since Afghanist an is a sovereign country, “it has the right to choose its friends”.
04 June 2013
British company, Public Interest Lawyers, concluded that the British military breached the law by detaining up to 85 Afghans for up to 14 months without charge and access to lawyers, reports Reuters. The Afghans were reportedly held at Britain’s temporary detention facilities at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province. The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) refused the allegations, stating “All UK detentions in Afghanistan are legal under the U.N. mandate”. In November 2012, British Defence Secreta ry, Philip Hammond prohibited the transfer of prisoners to Afghan authorities due to fears of mistreatment. Hammond told the BBC that it was the very same company that filed a case against British MoD “precisely to prevent us handing them [detainees] over to the Afghan judicial authorities”. Although British forces operating in Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assis tance Force (ISAF) are not permitted to hold suspects for more than 96 hours, in “exceptional circumstances” they can detain them for a longer time, adds BBC. According to a Ministry’s spokesman, “Many are either suspected killers of British troops or known to be involved in the preparation, facilitation or laying of improvised explosive devices.” Aimal Faizi, Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s spokesman, noted that the Afghan government is investigating the detentions, writes Reuters. In related news, Khaama Press reports that Afghan President Hamid Karzai demands the transfer of Afghan detainees from Guantanamo prison to Afghanistan. Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama has urged the US Congress to lift a ban on the transfer of these detainees. Britain will grant a five-year visa to 600 former Afghan translators who have worked with the British military in Afghanistan to protect them from a risk of Taliban reprisal, reports The Associated Press (AP). Only interpreters who provided their service between December 2012 and 2014 and served at least a year on the frontline will be eligible for the visa. The visa package will include free travel to Britain and three months accommodation for the interpreters and their immediate family members. Those who do not qualify for the five-year visa will receive funds equivalent to their current wage as well as training and education with the Afghan security forces. A statement from British Prime Minister David Cameron’s office noted “These proposals give them a choice: The opportu nity to go on working in Afghanistan, learning new skills and to go on rebuilding their country, or to come and make a new start in Britain”. This policy announcement differs from Cameron’s May 2013 recommendation that Afghan interpreters should remain in Afghanistan since the country cannot afford to lose skilled people needed to help rebuild Afghanistan. According to Amnesty International’s latest report, the humanitarian rights situation in Afghanistan remains worrisome due to continuous violence against the civilian population, including women, girls and displaced people, reports Khaama Press. As the Afghan authorities are assuming responsibility for the country’s security, Amnesty International researcher Horia Mosadiq urged the Afghan government and parliament to prioritise human rights. Mosadiq urged that international troop withdrawal “should not also mean withdrawal of support to help protect and promote human rights in Afghanistan.” Mosadiq , on a positive note, highlighted the increase of civil society activism in the country, particularly due to the women’s movement. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), at least 600 Afghan women and girls are presently in a prison following accusations of “moral crimes” to include running away from home or extramarital affairs, reports United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). The Deputy Director of the Asia Division of HRW, Phelim Kine, warns that imprisonment of Afghan girls for moral crimes “has got much worse and the commitments by senior government officials to end such abuses have had little practical impact.” Kine notes that women convicted of moral crimes usually flee homes to escape domestic violence, underage marriage, rapes, threat of “honour killing” and other abuses. In related news, more than 200 male students staged a protest in Kabul, calling for the abrogation of a presidential decree on Elimination of Violence Against Women which they view as un-Islamic and violating Sharia law, reports The New York Times. One student protestor expressed that the decree, which punishes underage and forced marriage, rape and domestic violence, was “imposed by foreigners”. A number of other articles related to governance and rule of law appeared over the past two weeks, including those below: According to a Taliban’s spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, a delegation of senior Afghan Taliban members travelled to Iran at the invitation of Iranian officials despite a long history of hostility between the Sunni Taliban and Iran’s Shia authorities, re ports The Guardian. However, the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs could not confirm the visit, adds Pakistani Tribune. During his speech in the Loya Jirga, Afghan President Hamid Karzai urged foreign nations not to interfere in the Afghan peace process, stating “If foreigners did not follow our way and consider another path which will have a negative impact on Afghani stan, then we will discuss with you [Loya Jirga] and will take actions to disgrace them”, quotes Khaama Press. Meanwhile, he further urged Taliban fighters to join the Afghan security forces in the fight against Afghanistan enemies. During a Meshrano Jirga session, the Vice-Chair of the House, Mohammad Alam Izedyar assessed that the recent increase in Taliban’s attacks have signalled that the Taliban is not prepared for peace talks, reports Tolo News. According to Afghan Senators, the majority of these attacks have been perpetrated with Pakistani government support. On 26 May, Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) commenced the voter registration for presidential and provincial council elections scheduled for 05 April 2014, highlights Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty. Head of the IEC, Fazel Ahmad Manawi, noted that voter registration teams will only go to areas sufficiently secured by Afghan police. In an effort to increase transparency, around 300,000 letters permitting monitoring of the registration process were issued to the representatives of political parties, civil society and media organisations, adds UNAMA.
04 June 2013
Security & Force Protection
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n 24 May, five to six Taliban insurgents staged a coordinated attack on a heavily guarded residential area housing the International Organization for Migration (IOM) offices and other international agencies in Kabul, reports The New York Times. A hospital run by the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS – domestic intelligence) and the headquarters of the Afghan Public Protection Force (APPF) are also located in that sector, highlights France 24. While the Taliban tried to blast their way to the compound with suicide vests, rocket-propelled launchers (RPG) and light weapons, the Afghan security forces managed to counter the insurgent attacks, thereby ensuring the international agency employees were unharmed, adds The New York Times. Norwegian Special Forces supported the Afghan security forces during the attack, mentions Reuters. However, the five hours long attack left four people killed, including a six-year old girl, one private guard and an Afghan police officer. Thirteen persons were also wounded, including one International Labour Organization member (ILO) and three IOM staff, reports Reuters. All attackers died, said General Mohammad Ayoub Salangi, Kabul’s police chief. IOM’s chief for Afghanistan, Richard Danziger, said it remains unclear whether the IOM office was specifically targeted, although attackers infiltrated the facility, says The Guardian. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, explaining they were targeting a CIA safe house. This incident is the latest case of ‘complex attacks’ launched i n the heart of Kabul since the raid targeting the Afghan traffic police headquarters in January 2013, which lasted nine hours, highlights The New York Times. An ISAF official assesses that the Afghan police’s Quick Reaction Force, along with other units, responded quickly and competently. At the same time, Amrullah Aman, a retired Afghan general and a military analyst, stresses that Afghan security forces still need better training and equipment. Also, on 29 May, insurgents stormed the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Jalalabad, reports The New York Times. All seven Western personnel escaped the attack after Afghan security forces evacuated the staff and surrounded the facility. The attack left one guard dead and another injured after an insurgent blew himself up at the compound’s entrance, which allowed insurgents to infiltrate the building before starting a gun battle with the Afghan forces. The raid involved a suicide bomber and three gunmen, said an Afghan Ministry of Interior (MoI) spokesman, quotes Reuters. The Afghan MoI said security forces recovered the bodies of two attackers, adds Agence France-Press. It is the first concerted attack targeting the ICRC since the organisation started working in the country thirty years ago, adds The New York Times. This attack is even more uncommon, as the ICRC is respected by all the conflict parties – including the Taliban - for its impartial approach to humanitarian assistance. The Taliban later denied they had staged the attack targeting the ICRC compound, recognising they had previously co-operated with the humanitarian organisation, including in ICRC-led polio vaccination campaigns, writes The Guardian. In reaction to the attack, the ICRC decided to suspend its activities across Afghanistan and close the Jalalabad office, says Jacques De Maio, ICRC’s South -Asia chief, reports Dawn. According to local authorities in Faryab province, at least eighty school girls were poisoned on 04 June, says Khaama Press. A local Afghan official said initially three girls fell unconscious after an unknown man hurled a poisonous substance into the air from outside the targeted girls school, explains Pajhwok. The official added that the Afghan security forces had launched a man hunt to find the attacker. However, education ministry officials denied militants involvement was behind the poisoning and called it a psychological issue, says Khaama Press. This comes after several girls were poisoned in north-eastern Takhar province of Afghanistan last month. Education officials also warned that the Afghan authorities would challenge school girls who posit claims of being poisoned in the future, mentions Khaama Press. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reports an increasing use of the synthetic drug crystal methamphetamine in Afghanistan, says Reuters. The UNODC says that the number of seized crystal meth samples tripled to 48 in 2012 compared with the previous year. In addition, the organisation fears that the potential power vacuum left by the international forces after 2014 might exacerbate local addiction to the synthetic drug and Afghanistan might become a new “crystal meth” transit hub b etween Iran – where the drug is produced – and eastern Asia. A number of other articles related to deadly incidents and casualties in Afghanistan appeared over the past two weeks, including those below: Afghan officials said at least 25 Taliban fighters were killed and dozens more wounded during clashes with Afghan security forces, backed by local anti-Taliban militiamen, on 31 May in Ghazni province, reports RFE/RL. Provincial officials stated that Pakistani nationals were present among the insurgents. The area has been witnessing the development of a grassroots uprising – initiated by local residents – against the insurgency. At the same time, Logar province also witnessed increasingly organised local resistance against the insurgency, led by Farhad Akbari, a 33 year-old former construction engineer who is now leading local villagers and gunmen in a rebellion against insurgents, reports The Washington Post. Farhad Akbari says he has been recruiting seventy members and has driven the Taliban away from at least 100 local villages. The local force works closely with the Afghan National Police (ANP), even if Afghan officials fear that those local militias might challenge Kabul’s authority, adds The Washington Post. A suicide bomber targeting US troops outside an Afghan government office on Monday killed nine children walking home from school and wounded two Americans on 03 June, says AFP. This incident echoes another case of civilian loss which occurred on the same day in eastern Afghanistan as a local family drove their vehicle over a roadside bomb, killing all seven people inside, says
04 June 2013
The Washington Post. The UN blamed militant attacks for 84 per cent of the recent civilian casualties, saying that tactics like suicide attacks near schools and planting roadside bombs around the country may amount to war crimes, reminds The Post. Wali-ur Rehman Mehsud, the deputy commander of Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), was killed in a US drone strike on 29 May in North Waziristan, Pakistan, reports RFE/RL. TTP immediately appointed a new deputy commander, according to The New York Times, even if the deputy loss might result in internal struggles and rifts inside the insurgent group. Although the operation might trigger fresh violence in Pakistan and the region, the death of Mehsud represents a setback for the insurgency adds RFE/RL.
Social & Strategic Infrastructure
ens of thousands of villagers and farmers are frustrated by the failure of US forces promise to increase the volume of Dahla Dam reservoir, reports The Star. The project will raise the Dahla Dam by five meters. The Dam is located in the Taliban heartland of Kandahar province. The project was scheduled to be completed by the US military following the withdrawal of Canadian forces. Residents and farmers who depend on irrigated water complain that the canals dry up during the hottest months of the year. According to The Star, this unfulfilled promise has created resentment towards the Afghan government and the international troops. The United States Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) said in in 2012 that they planned to award the construction contract in spring 2013 but this deadline has been pushed to summer, but it is not clear yet if the US government will approve the funding by then. Although villagers living near the dam are most affected, Arghandab district tribal elder Haki Agha Jan says “The whole of Kandahar province is frustrated with this dam,” as eighty per cent of Kandaharis live along the Arghandab River, which is fed by the reservoir. Jan expresses, “There is only one more year left before the Americans withdraw, so we’re afraid that they will never keep their promises. […} They are never truthful and should never be trusted. In the last 12 years, they didn’t even fix the electricity pro blems.” The USACE estimate it will take at least two and a half years to raise the dam at a cost of USD 100 million. Before the US forces arrived in Kandahar, local authorities and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) disagreed on the urgency of the project. CIDA, which spent USD 50 million on some minor reparations to the dam, argued that the irrigation canal was full in the summer while Sher Mohammad Atail, an Afghan engineer working for the Arghandab Irrigation Rehabilitation Project, said that the canals are forty per cent below of the required level, and some stretches had too little water or none at all. In other water resource management news, Andrew Scanlon, the head of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in Afghanistan, warned that the country’s water resources are under stress, writes OOSKAnews. Scanlon said, “the challenge amidst efforts for national development and growth is to understand, recognize and take action to manage and protect the biodiversity resources that the country possesses, and on which its sustainable development in future decades will be built.” UNEP alerts that Afghanistan is one of the most vulnerable countries, with very fragile natural ecosystems that suffer from population growth, climatic variability and frequent droughts and floods. Seventy-five per cent of the country is classified as vulnerable and eighty per cent of the water supply comes from snowmelt. UNEP warns that water supply in both urban and rural areas is threatened due to water scarcity, mismanagement and damaged water systems. Eighty per cent of the country’s population relies on sub sistence agriculture, and poor sanitation and waste management pose a serious menace to water sources. During an official visit to Kabul, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee offered to provide more training and assistance to the reconstruction to Afghanistan after the international troops withdraw from the country, highlights Al Jazeera. “India is prepared to increase bilateral contribution to institution-building, training and equipment to the extent India can, ” said Mukherjee. Indian assistance will focus on training the Afghanistan National Army and infrastructure development. India has so far invested USD 2 billion in rebuilding transport infrastructure, hospitals and energy in rural areas. In addition, India is also supporting Afghanistan in rebuilding its police forces as well as its judiciary and diplomatic services. Currently, India, Iran and Afghanistan are also discussing the development of the Chahbahar port and further road and transport links to and from Afghanistan. Chahbahar port is the most feasible alternative route from India to Afghanistan, since Pakistan denies India road access to Afghanistan. In the following weeks, Gurbanguli Berdimuhammedov, Turkmen President, will inaugurate the construction works of the Atamirat – Imamnazar – Akina Railway, which is one phase of the Turkmenistan – Afghanistan – Tajikistan Railway, according to Trend. President Hamid Karzai and Tajik President Emomoli Rahmon will also attend the inauguration ceremony in Ashgabat. The three countries are still working to formalise financial assistance with the Asian Development Bank and the Islamic Development Bank. The stretch linking Atamirat and Imamnazar will be built by the Turkmen Ministry of Railway Transport, whereas the one linking Imambazar and Akina will likely be constructed by the Afghan government. A number of other social and strategic infrastructure issues emerged over the past two weeks, including those summarised below: The Pakistani government has announced that due to the political transition in the country, the Pakistani portion of the IranPakistan (IP) gas pipeline will not be completed by 31 December 2014 as initially planned, writes Dawn. The Pakistani Minister of Petroleum and National Resources, however, said that Iran will write off the penalties on the delay. According to the contract penalties are USD 200 million per month. The government of Japan announced the purchase of 106 pieces of road construction and maintenance equipment worth USD 30 million, report Khaama Press. The equipment includes snow clearing machines, which will be crucial to keep the Bamian – Dai Kundi and Ghazni – Ghor highways free of snow during the winter.
04 June 2013
The Ministry of Information Technology and Communications and the Kabul Mayor signed a Memorandum of Understanding to introduce Global Positioning System (GPS) technology in Kabul, according to Wadsam. The project will be launched in Kabul and extended to Mazar-e Sharif, Kandahar, Herat, Kunduz and Jalalabad at a cost of USD 25 million. The contract was awarded to a foreign firm due to the lack of local companies specialising in GPS systems. The project will collect coordinates of each relevant place and produce an electronic map. Recent Readings & Resources “Drones: Myths and Reality in Pakistan”, International Crisis Group, Asia Report N. 247, May 2013. “Afghanistan Price Bulletin”, FEWS NET & WFP, May 2013. “Annual Report & Final Accounts 2012”, Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, May 2013. “States of Fragility”, Forced Migration Review Issue 43, Refugees Studies Centre, University of Oxford. “Afghanistan Programme Plane 2013”, Concern Worldwide, May 2013. “A Little Bit Poppy-free and Little Bit Eradicated: opium poppy cultivation in Balkh and Badakshan Provinces in 2011-2012”, Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit. “Afghanistan Special Report: Pre-Harvest Assessment May 2013”, FEWS NET and FAO, May 2013.
Recent Maps “Afghanistan: Humanitarian Snapshot”, UNOCHA, May 2013.
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