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.
The province of Khost has a population of approximately 637 000. The province is primarily inhabited by Pashtuns, with approximately 1 % Tajik. It is situated in the eastern part of Afghanistan, bordering the provinces of Paktika and Paktya, and sharing an international border with Pakistan. The province is divided in 13 districts. The so-called Khost-Gardez Pass connects Khost with neighbouring Paktya, with Logar, and ultimately with Kabul.
Taliban activity is reported in the province. The Haqqani network has been most active in western Khost, Paktya and Paktika. In 2017, the UN Security Council reported the presence of individuals affiliated to Al Qaeda in Khost.
On the government side, a ‘campaign force’ named Khost Protection Force (KPF) has reportedly been the most influential security actor in the province.
According to LWJ, eight of the districts of Khost were contested, with the remaining five districts categorised as under government control or undetermined.
ACLED collected data on 342 violent events in the period from 1 March 2019 to 30 June 2020 (average of 4.9 incidents per week), of which 196 were coded as ‘battles’, 130 as ‘explosions/remote violence’ and 16 as ‘violence against civilians’.
Examples of incidents include insurgent activities as well as operations by Afghan security forces. Throughout the reporting period, the Afghan security forces led several operations against the Haqqani Network in Khost. While expressing concern over reported cases of summary executions, unlawful and arbitrary detentions and of torture by the KPF, UNAMA noted that there was a ‘significant drop’ in civilian deaths attributed to KPF, compared to 2018.
Further impact on the civilian population included, for example, human rights violations and arbitrary arrests attributed to the KPF.
UNAMA documented 197 civilian casualties (51 deaths and 146 injured) in 2019, representing 31 civilian victims per 100 000 inhabitants. This was an increase of 13 % compared to 2018. The leading causes for the civilian casualties were non-suicide IEDs, followed by targeted killings and search operations.
RS ranked Khost in the category of provinces where the number of civilian casualties was between 0 and 25 for the first quarter of 2020, and between 76 and 100 for the second quarter.
In the period 1 March 2019 – 30 June 2020, 2 828 persons were displaced from Khost, all within the province itself. In the same period, 791 persons were displaced to Khost from other provinces. During the reporting period, Khost City’s district was the only destination of these IDPs.
Looking at the indicators, it can be concluded that indiscriminate violence is taking place in the province of Khost, however not at a high level and, accordingly, a higher level of individual elements is required in order to show substantial grounds for believing that a civilian, returned to the territory, would face a real risk serious harm within the meaning of Article 15(c) QD.
Main COI reference: Security situation 2020, 2.18