UN marks unprecedented civilian casualties in Afghanistan

UN: More than 10,000 civilian casualties in Afghanistan last year

UN marks unprecedented civilian casualties in Afghanistan

UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan blames anti-government forces for most casualties

According to UN estimates, the armed conflict in Afghanistan last year killed over 3,800 civilians, including 927 children. There have not been such large losses among the civilian population in the last ten years..

A report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), released on Sunday, found that an escalation of violence left about 7,200 people injured last year, and the total number of civilian casualties rose by 5 percent..

The report’s authors attribute the rise in civilian casualties to a surge in Islamic State-Khorasan suicide attacks and an increase in casualties from air and search operations by pro-government forces..

“It is particularly shocking that the number of children killed this year is unprecedentedly high,” said Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, quoted in the report..

UNAMA blames the majority of civilian casualties (63 per cent) on anti-government forces, of which 37 per cent on the Taliban, 20 per cent on the Islamic State of Khorasan province and 6 per cent on unidentified militants.

The report blames the Afghan security forces and their foreign partners, led by the United States, for the rest of the civilian casualties..

“This is the tenth annual UN report documenting the plight of civilians in the Afghan conflict, which has killed over 32,000 and injured about 60,000 civilians over a decade,” said UNAMA Chief Tadamichi Yamamoto.

He reiterates his call for an end to the fighting to end human suffering in Afghanistan.

“That is why now we must make even more efforts to achieve peace. I urge all parties to use every opportunity to do this, ”Yamamoto said..

For the first time in a decade, UNAMA has recorded over 1,000 civilian casualties, including 536 fatalities, from air operations, claiming nearly 60 per cent of the incidents are the responsibility of the US-led international military..

According to official figures, the U.S. military dropped 7362 bombs or ammunition in Afghanistan in 2018, the highest in a single year in at least a decade..

The escalating air strikes were part of the Trump administration’s strategy to force the Taliban to sit down at the negotiating table. However, despite this campaign, it was not possible to break the deadlock on the battlefield, and the militants continued to seize new territories..

The Taliban were quick to declare the UNAMA report “biased” and propaganda material, saying the authors did not provide “any evidence or justification”, blaming the group for 37 percent of civilian casualties.

“The entire Afghan nation is witnessing that the American invaders, by their own admission, dropped more than 7,000 bombs on Afghans over the past year,” the Taliban said in a statement. The Taliban blamed US and Afghan forces for “80 percent” of all civilian casualties, saying they are extremely cautious when it comes to the lives of civilians.

The civilian casualties report came a day before the resumption of US-Taliban peace talks in Qatar to promote a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Afghanistan. Since last fall, the parties have met several times and reported “significant progress” towards ending the war following their contacts a month ago in the Qatari capital, Doha..

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