This country guidance is currently under review. In view of the recent significant changes, notably the Taliban takeover, assessments within this document may no longer be valid. When examining the international protection needs of applicants from Afghanistan, please consider the most up-to-date country of origin information available.
In Afghanistan, a wide range of different groups and individuals can be considered as actors of persecution or serious harm, and a clear distinction between the different types of actors within the meaning of Article 6 QD might often be difficult to make. International or foreign actors present in Afghanistan could also be considered as actors of persecution or serious harm in some instances.
The following subsections highlight the main actors of persecution or serious harm in Afghanistan in a non-exhaustive manner.
Territorial control in Afghanistan is divided between the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban. The Long War Journal (LWJ) considered 133 districts of Afghanistan (33 %) to be under the control of government or to have undetermined status, 189 districts (47 %) to be contested, 75 districts (19 %) to be held by the Taliban, one district was assessed as ‘unconfirmable Taliban claim of control’. 15 million people were living in areas controlled by the government or having undetermined status, while 13 million Afghans found themselves in contested areas, and 4.5 million in Taliban-controlled areas [Security situation 2020, 1.5.3].
Operational presence of other insurgent groups is listed below. It should be noted that due to affiliations with other insurgent groups, the regional scope of a group might be broader.
■ The Haqqani Network has increased its influence in areas outside of its normal operation regions in Paktika, Paktya and Khost provinces in eastern Afghanistan since Sirajuddin Haqqani became the Deputy Leader of the Taliban in 2015. According to a recent source, Haqqani fighters are actively based in Paktya, Kandahar, Helmand and eastern provinces, and the Network carries out attacks in Kabul [Anti-government elements, 4.1].
■ After US operations during November 2019, aiming at pushing the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) out of their usual territory in Nangarhar, fighters of ISKP withdrew to Kunar and the north. Sources report on ISKP cells being present throughout Afghanistan, including in Kunar, Herat and Kabul City [Anti-government elements, 3.2].
■ It is reported that Al Qaeda is covertly active in 12 provinces: Badakhshan, Ghazni, Helmand, Khost, Kunar, Kunduz, Logar, Nangarhar, Nimruz, Nuristan, Paktya and Zabul [Anti-government elements, 4.2].
■ Foreign terrorist AGEs and fighters also operate in Afghanistan. Main groups located in the eastern provinces of Kunar, Nangarhar and Nuristan are Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (including a number of loose splinter groups), Jaish-e Momammed and Lashkar-e Tayyiba. There are also several central Asian und Uighur foreign terrorist and militant groups with fighters of Uzbek, Tajik und Turkmen ethnicity that present a significant threat in northern areas of Afghanistan [Anti-government elements, 4.3].