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UN report condemns increase in civilian deaths in Afghanistan

[JURIST] The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) [advocacy website] released a report [text, PDF] Monday condemning an increase in civilian deaths in Afghanistan during the first half of 2017. Although there was an overall decrease in civilian casualties in the first six months of 2017, there was an increase in injuries and deaths from improvised explosive devices (IED). IEDs from anti-government forces, the majority of which are suicide bombs, account for 40 percent of all civilian casualties in the beginning of 2017. The report notes that the increase in aerial operations and the use of pressure-place devices in civilian-populated areas led to an increase in women and child casualties as well. Additionally, the report enumerates they ways ground engagements extend human suffering beyond death and injury such as the displacement of communities, families and individuals; property damage; loss of livelihood; and diminished access to education, medical care and humanitarian aid. The UNAMA praised pro-government forces for a decrease in casualties from national security efforts and encouraged a further reduction throughout the remainder of 2017. The report concludes with recommendations to the Government of Afghanistan, anti-government groups and international military forces offering aid to "support their efforts to protect civilians, prevent civilian casualties and uphold their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law."

Civilian casualties continue to be a primary issue in the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. In February at least 20 people were reported to have been killed and 41 injured following a terrorist attack [JURIST report] at the Supreme Court in Kabul, Afghanistan. In February of last year UN reported [JURIST report] that civilian casualties in Afghanistan had reached a record high 11,000 in 2015. Last June, three Taliban gunmen attacked [JURIST report] a court building in eastern Afghanistan, killing seven people including a newly appointed chief prosecutor. In November 2015 the US Department of Defense and Pentagon officials completed their investigation [JURIST report] into the October 3 bombing of the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, and announced [statement] that it was an "avoidable accident caused primarily by human error."

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