[JURIST] The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) [official website] on Monday reported an increase in civilian casualties [press release] from ground engagements in Afghanistan compared to the same time last year, with indications that the number will only continue to rise in the coming months. The report appeals to the Afghan National Security Forces and anti-government elements, the main contributors to the Afghan conflict, to “take all necessary measures to protect civilians.” Overall recorded casualties for the first three months of this year already number 266, a 43 percent increase from last year. UNAMA also noted a significant increase in women and children casualties, reporting that the toll on both groups surpassed the unprecedented highs of last year. The report identifies anti-government elements as the largest contributor to civilian casualties, followed by improvised explosive devices and targeted killings. The Taliban is identified as a responsible party to a substantial part of target killings, and the UN has called on the group to cease all attacks aimed at non-participants, citing international law restrictions.
Afghanistan has faced much criticism over reported human rights abuses and staggering numbers of casualties. UNAMA’s current report shows the alarming increase in the casualty toll, as 2015 has already surpassed [JURIST report] the numbers accumulated for 2014, which was said to be the bloodiest year since 2009. The international community has also appealed for greater human rights protections, especially for women as Afghan law sees them as second-class citizens [JURIST op-ed]. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] called for economic donors [JURIST report] to Afghanistan to demand prosecution of human rights violations, while Amnesty International [advocacy website] urged for the protection [JURIST report] of female activists, and the prosecution of those who use violence to silence their dissent. There does seem to be some improvement of conditions in Afghanistan, as a UNAMA report released earlier this year showed “some progress” [JURIST report] towards preventing the torture and ill-treatment of government detainees.