Operation Freedom's Sentinel Quarterly Report April 1, 2020‒June 30, 2020

Overseas Contingency Operations

Under the Lead Inspector General framework, the Inspectors General for the Department of Defense, Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development conduct oversight of and report on the overseas contingency operation "Operation Freedom's Sentinel."

This quarter, the United States reduced its forces in Afghanistan to 8,600, the first step toward a full withdrawal under the terms of the U.S.-Taliban agreement signed on February 29. The complete withdrawal by April 2021 is predicated on the Taliban meeting its terms under the agreement, such as preventing terrorists from using Afghanistan to threaten the United States or its allies and holding peace talks with the Afghan government.

As of July 1, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that 31,836 people in Afghanistan had tested positive for COVID-19 and 774 people had died due to the outbreak, including 18 healthcare workers. However, due to limited public health resources and testing capacity, cases and deaths are likely under-reported in Afghanistan. The high positive test rate for Afghanistan, above 43 percent, suggested that testing is insufficient. While the number of reported new cases peaked in early June and then declined, the average number of tests also declined in the last two weeks of June.  Food access (as opposed to availability) remained a challenge for Afghans due to continued high prices of staple foods, declining remittances, and reduced incomes and purchasing power due to lockdowns and movement restrictions. USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance provided more than $91 million in humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan in FY 2020, as of June 12, including food assistance.

USAID reported that it had committed approximately $21 million in supplemental funding for the COVID-19 response in Afghanistan by June 30, but had obligated only 36 percent of those funds and had disbursed only 1.5 percent of the funds committed. An additional $24 million in prior year funding was also redirected by USAID to support the response. USAID reported $770,000 in supplemental funding had been committed and $10.7 million had been redirected to support the health sector. Although USAID does not track how many implementer staff have tested positive for COVID-19, USAID reported that adoption of effective infection prevention and control practices is weak in the general population and many implementer staff have been infected by the disease. By the end of the quarter, USAID reported that some of its implementers had not been able to procure PPE, resulting in the suspension of some USAID activities.

Operation Freedom's Sentinel Quarterly Report-In-Brief April 1, 2020‒June 30, 2020