Country Risk Code: Extreme
The Political landscape in Afghanistan
The Taliban, who held power in the state from 1996 until 2001, has retaken control following an insurgency from neighbouring Pakistan, deposing the United States supported administration. United States forces withdrew from Afghanistan in 2021, allowing the Taliban to complete their coup in autumn 2021. As of February 2022, no foreign state has officially recognised the Taliban government.
The Taliban is currently forming a functioning government and is imposing staunch policies that control many areas of society, such as distributing all food aid. Shopkeepers have removed imagery, and mannequins, in the human form and females are required to wear the hijab. Many females have been removed from their jobs and access to education since the Taliban’s return.The control of media and journalism is also now under Taliban supervision. There are widespread reports of oppression, abuse and detention of journalists by the Taliban. Those who worked with or aligned with the foreign powers have been purportedly subject to beatings or even killed. Nevertheless, the Taliban state that provision for minority groups and those who advocated the foreign power backed administration is in place.The economy has near-totally collapsed. Some food has made it to the market, yet the banking systems remain disrupted. Many people have not been paid or cannot access money leading to widespread starvation and shortages. There has been extensive reporting of the sale of children and internal organs to access vital supplies.Internal conflict is highly likely, in addition to continued tension with neighbouring powers, including Pakistan, where there are border disputes that lead to violent clashes. The Taliban control all borders and are limiting access and egress routes.
The security situation has deteriorated and remains volatile. Armaments from the United States are now in the hands of Taliban forces. Roadblocks manned by Taliban forces are common across the country. Violent crimes, including armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping and sexual assault, are all a severe risk in the country. Female travellers must dress conservatively, covering arms, legs and head whilst in the country to mitigate the threat of rape or harassment.
Since the return of the Taliban leadership, there have been reports of the kidnap of foreign aid workers. In addition, several longstanding kidnapped individuals remain held by Taliban associated groups
The threat of terrorism in the area is severe. Buildings and assets associated with foreign powers, including hotels, NGOs, humanitarian organisations and individuals who supported foreign actors are all legitimate targets. The use of IEDs is prevalent. There is a high threat of attack to those queuing outside temporary diplomatic missions awaiting exit visas or documentation. On 22 January 2022, an IED attached to a minibus killed at least six people, mainly females, in Herat, close to the border with Iran.
Taliban forces now patrol with the police force. The units adhere to Islamic law.
The threat of terrorist attacks against transport is severe. Public transport remains unreliable and dangerous. Road safety is low and progress requires the transit of the many Taliban checkpoints. Some airlines are now offering flights to Kabul on a sporadic basis.
Choosing the right cover for your trip to Afghanistan
Many insurers exclude cover for travel to Afghanistan. It is vital to check that your policy includes journeys to this nation. Ascertain that your policy coverage includes medical expenses, repatriation, crisis management, and kidnap for ransom cover. The options for care within Afghanistan are currently poor. It will be necessary to evacuate you for medical and other critical care.
LGBT travel advice for Afghanistan
All LGBT and same-sex activity is illegal in Afghanistan and is subject to the death penalty. All physical contact between people of either gender is likely to lead to harassment and abuse by authorities. Minority groups are at severe threat of abuse, harassment and hardships within the country. Sharia law allows honour killings.