UN says number of civilian casualties in Afghan war soar

UN says nearly 5,000 civilian causalities reported in Afghanistan in first half of 2015

Updated Aug 6, 2015

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on Wednesday released a report detailing the number of civilians killed and injured in the Afghan war during the first half of 2015.

UNAMA’s “2015 Midyear Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict” outlined that 4,921 civilian casualties have been documented.

“Afghan civilians have suffered far too long from this destructive conflict. The devastating consequences of this violence against civilians as documented in this report should serve to strengthen the broad conviction that peace is urgently needed,” said Nicholas Haysom, head of the UNAMA.

According to the report “90 per cent – of civilian casualties resulted from ground engagements, improvised explosive devices, complex and suicide attacks and targeted killing.”

The casualties were recorded as 1,592 deaths and 3,329 injured. Figures indicate a 1 percent increase in civilian casualties when compared to the first six months of 2014.

The number of women casualties increased by 23 percent and children by 13 percent.

“This year, UNAMA recorded the highest number of children and women casualties compared to the same period in previous years,” said Danielle Bell, UNAMA Director of Human Rights.

Bell also added that “All parties to the conflict must undertake stronger measures to protect civilians from harm. When the conflict kills or maims a mother, child, sister or brother, the repercussions for families and communities are devastating and long-lasting.”

The report outlined that “Anti-Government Elements” were responsible for 70 percent of the causalities, “Pro-Government Forces” were responsible for 16 percent.

No specific group or element was named for the 10 percent of the causalities, but the remaining 4 percent of causalities were said to be caused by unattributed explosive remnants of the conflict.

Conflict in Afghanistan further escalated as Taliban militants intensified their attacks after the Afghan government signed a Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States in September 2014.

The Afghan government also signed the same agreement with NATO ending the Alliance’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in December 2014.

The Taliban had claimed the end of NATO's combat mission marks the defeat of US-led forces, which have been fighting since 2001.

Although the coalition combat mission in Afghanistan has come to an end, a small contingent of around 1,800 US counter-terrorism troops are still involved in combat operations.

The US military said it would no longer support Afghan security forces in routine combat operations, but would only assist “in extremis,” or in emergencies.

Despite the fact that the United States military had said it would not intervene, its drone strikes against Taliban militants have been a controversial issue as civilians have allegedly been targeted.

On June 5, a US drone killed at least 34 people after it hit the funeral ceremony of a Taliban commander. Afghan officials said the victims were Taliban fighters.

However, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed the attack and said the victims killed were all civilians.

TRTWorld and agencies