Civilian casualties on the rise in Afghanistan: UN report

Kabul : The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in its first quarter of 2016 report released on Sunday said that there was an alarming rise in civilian casualties in Afghanistan.

The UNAMA in its statement documented 1,943 civilian casualties between January 1 and March 31, with 600 recorded deaths and 1,343 injured.

“These figures mark an overall increase in civilian casualties of two percent compared to the same period in 2015 with a 13 percent decrease in deaths but an 11 percent increase in injuries. Consistent with 2015 trends, ground engagements caused the highest number of total

civilian casualties, followed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs), complex and suicide attacks, as well as targeted killings,” the statement read.

“Even if a conflict intensifies, it does not have to be matched by corresponding civilian suffering provided parties take their international humanitarian law and human rights obligations seriously,” the Tolo News quoted Nicholas Haysom, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, as saying.

He asserted that the failure to respect humanitarian obligations would result in more suffering in a nation that has suffered enough.

The report also highlighted that actions by anti-government elements caused at least 60 percent of casualties while the pro-government forces caused at least 19 percent.

According to the report, sixteen percent of civilian casualties resulted from fighting between anti-government elements and pro-government forces could not be attributed to a specific party and unattributed unexploded ordinance were responsible for the remaining casualties.

The statement emphasized that the main area of their concern was the increase in civilian casualties from airstrike operations both by the Afghan air force and the international forces.

However, commending the Afghan Government for its progress in developing the National Civilian

Casualties Prevention and Mitigation Policy, UNAMA called on the government to finalize the policy and begin its implementation.

The mission also pressed that it believed establishment of dedicated entity to investigate incidents of conflict-related harm to civilians were necessary and that perpetrators of human rights violations must be held accountable.

“Notes with extreme concern than increased fighting in populated areas continues to kill and injure women and children at higher rates than the general population,” the report said.

The study disclosed that there was a five percent increase in women casualties and a 29 percent increase in child casualties compared to the first three months of 2015.

While ground engagements caused the highest number of women casualties, followed by suicide and complex attacks, and IEDs in children, the highest was ground engagement followed by unexploded ordinance and IEDs.

The UNAMA called for the precautions in protecting the civilians during operations. (ANI)