UN reports rise in Afghan civilian casualties in 2016
The United Nations (UN) has reported a rise in the civilian casualty toll in Afghanistan, which it says was caused by an increase in different forms of violence in the beleaguered country.
The number of the civilians killed and wounded in Afghanistan rose by three percent in 2016 compared to the previous year, according to the UN’s 2016 Annual Report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in Afghanistan, which was released on Monday.
The report, compiled by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said that between January 1 and December 31, 2016, the mission registered 3,498 civilian deaths and 7,920 injuries. That marked a combined increase of three-percent in casualties compared to 2015.
The deaths were caused by the terrorist activities of Daesh, Taliban, airstrikes meant to target militants, and unexploded ordnance particularly affecting children.
“Conflict-related violence exacted a heavy toll on Afghanistan in 2016, with an overall deterioration in civilian protection and the highest-total civilian casualties recorded since 2009, when UNAMA began systematic documentation of civilian casualties,” the UN mission said in the report.
In 2016, UNAMA also recorded the highest number of child casualties in a single year.
“This appalling conflict destroys lives and tears communities apart in every corner of Afghanistan,” the report quoted Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN’s special representative of the secretary-general for Afghanistan, as saying.
“Real protection of civilians requires commitment and demonstrated concrete actions to protect civilians from harm and for parties to the conflict to ensure accountability for indiscriminate and deliberate acts of civilian harm,” Yamamoto further said.
Afghanistan has been plagued by violence ever since US-led forces attacked the country in 2001. The Taliban, who were removed from power as a result of the invasion, have been engaging in militancy ever since. Meanwhile, the Daesh terrorist group has also recently gained a foothold in Afghanistan and has been seeking to spread its terror activities to more areas in the country.