- In July, five journalists were beaten by police officers in Herat for reporting on a public demonstration and police corruption.
- On 11 March, Jawed Ahmad, an Afghan journalist working for an international news organization, was killed by insurgents in Kandahar province.
- In September, Sayed Parwiz Kambakhsh was pardoned by President Karzai and given political asylum in a third country. He had been serving a 20-year prison term for “blasphemy” for allegedly distributing an article questioning the role of women in Islam.
Violence against women and girls
Women and girls continued to face widespread discrimination, domestic violence, and abduction and rape by armed individuals. They continued to be trafficked, traded in settlement of disputes and debts, and forced into marriages, including under-age marriages. In some instances women and girls were specifically targeted for attack by the Taleban and other armed groups.
Women human rights defenders continued to suffer from violence, harassment, discrimination and intimidation by government figures as well as the Taleban and other armed groups.
- In April 2009, the Taleban assassinated Sitara Achekzai, a secretary of the Kandahar Provincial Council and prominent women’s rights activist.
The government introduced two laws concerning women.
- In March, the Shi’a Personal Status Law, which contained several discriminatory provisions against Shi’a women, was passed. The law was amended in July following criticism by Afghan women’s groups and the international community. Some discriminatory provisions remained.
- In August, the Elimination of Violence Against Women law was passed by the Afghan President and Cabinet. The law criminalized violence against women, including domestic violence. Parliamentary approval of the law remained pending.
Lack of humanitarian access
Insurgent activity, particularly in the southern and eastern provinces, prevented many humanitarian and aid agencies from operating there. Attacks against aid workers by the Taleban and other armed groups increased considerably, including in the north. There were 172 attacks against NGOs and aid workers, resulting in 19 people dead, 18 injured and 59 abducted. The conflict impaired humanitarian access to some of the worst affected areas in the south and east, affecting the delivery of essential aid and medical care to millions. In March alone, 13 aid convoys were attacked and looted by armed groups.
Right to health
The conflict continued to have an adverse impact on health facilities. Some health clinics and facilities, particularly in the south, suffered as a result of operations by both sides of the conflict, which had a devastating effect on civilians’ access to health care.
- Two Basic Health Centres in the Nawa and Garamseer districts of Helmand province were occupied by international and national military forces in August and used as a military base. In September, the clinic in Nawa district reopened and the clinic in Garamseer district was moved to a new location.
- On 6 September, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops raided and searched a hospital run by the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan in Wardak province.
Internally displaced people
UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, estimated that 297,000 Afghans were displaced from their homes, with more than 60,000 in 2009 alone. The majority of the displaced had fled the ongoing fighting in the south, east and south-eastern areas. Thousands were also displaced by drought conditions, flash floods and food shortages in central and northern areas.
Thousands of displaced people were living in makeshift camps in Kabul and Herat with inadequate shelter and very little access to food, drinking water, health care services and education.