The Taliban have never been more powerful since 2001. The area contested or controlled by the insurgents now comprises more than half of the country and have steadily grown in recent years. The group acts as a shadow government in several district of Afghanistan and the recent peace talks are providing it with increasing political legitimacy. While a decade ago there were around 15,000 insurgents in Afghanistan. Today, the estimated number of militants exceeds 60,000.
Since the peace negotiations between the US government and the Taliban began, the fighting between the Afghan security forces and the insurgents have escalated as both parties try to gain leverage at the negotiating table in advance of direct peace talks. The frequency and spread of Taliban violence, left Afghan security forces overstretched and, in some cases, overwhelmed. The Afghan army and police suffer an alarmingly high casualty rate that appears to be increasing. Government forces are suffering high numbers of desertion, lack of timely supply of logistics, and widespread corruption. The recent escalation in the war had disastrous consequences on the civilian population. Afghanistan remains one of the deadliest conflict in the world, civilian casualties are at an all-time high and the conflict is causing continued waves of internal displacement. Many of the displaced are fleeing the fighting in rural areas to move to the relative safety of urban centers. Hundred of thousands live in squalid refugee camps around major cities. Some arrived few months ago, some have been here for a decade.