Afghanistan civilian casualties will likely reach decade high: UN
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Afghanistan civilian casualties will likely reach decade high: UN

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) warned in a report published Monday that documented casualties of Afghanistan civilians are poised to reach the highest number recorded in one year since 2009.

The Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict 2021 Midyear Report analyzed documented civilian casualties between January 1 and June 30 of this year. It revealed there were 5,183 civilian causalities comprising 1,659 civilians killed and 3,524 civilians injured, a total increase of 47 percent from the same time period in 2020.

During the first six months of this year compared to the first six months of 2020, the report revealed a threefold increase in civilian casualties from non-suicide improvised explosive devices. Targeting killings and increasing use of airstrikes also represented a high proportion of total civilian casualties.

The report noted the UN’s concern about the number of casualties to children, women and girls. These casualties were higher than in previous years, with child casualties representing 32 percent of total civilian casualties. The UNAMA has previously described Afghanistan as “one of the deadliest countries in the world for children,” a statement the report reinforces.

Attacks on heath and education facilitates, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, were another concern of UNAMA’s.

Afghan authorities and the Taliban were attributed as the biggest causes of civilian casualties.

“The data shows a very disturbing trend, particularly since early May, of ever-increasing numbers of Afghan civilians being killed and injured due to the expanding conflict,” said Deborah Lyons, head of the UNAMA. “The ongoing pursuit of a military solution will only increase the suffering of the Afghan people.”

Afghanistan has been devastated by international armed conflict and war since 2001. Despite a wide range of international efforts, negotiations to end the conflict have proved unsuccessful. Civilians’ lives and wellbeing are threatened, and taken, by the violent conflict.

The UN is encouraging a ceasefire. Lyons called on the Taliban and Afghan leaders to bring an end to the conflict and focus on peaceful negotiations.