Calling on all parties to the conflict to take precautions to protect civilians during the operations, the UN mission, said release of the first quarter civilian casualty data for 2016 showed continued record numbers of civilian casualties.
“Even if a conflict intensifies, it does not have to be matched by corresponding civilian suffering provided parties take their international humanitarian law and human rights obligations seriously,” said Nicholas Haysom, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA. “Failure to respect humanitarian obligations will result in more suffering in a nation that has suffered enough.”
According to the UN mission, it documented 1,943 civilian casualties (600 deaths and 1,343 injured) in the period between 1 January and 31 March 2016, adding that these figures mark an overall increase in civilian casualties of two per cent compared to the same period in 2015 with a 13 per cent decrease in deaths but an 11 per cent increase in injuries.
UNAMA further added that consistent with 2015 trends, ground engagements caused the highest number of total civilian casualties, followed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs), complex and suicide attacks, as well as targeted killings.
Actions by Anti-Government Elements caused at least 60 per cent of casualties while Pro-Government Forces caused at least 19 per cent. 16 per cent of civilian casualties resulted from fighting between Anti-Government Elements and Pro-Government Forces which could not be attributed to a specific party. Unattributed unexploded ordinance were responsible for the remaining casualties (six per cent).
As usual, the anti-government armed militants have contributed the majority of the casualties to the civilians with UN mission saying 362 deaths and 800 injured were caused by Anti-Government Elements. according to Khaama press.
UNAMA said this represents a 15 per cent decrease compared to the same period in 2015, primarily due to a significant decrease in casualties from targeted killings (179 casualties – 103 deaths and 76 injured) and a 17 per cent decrease in casualties attributed to IEDs (385 casualties – 113 deaths and 272 injured). The decrease in IED-caused civilian casualties resulted largely from a 15 per cent decrease in civilian casualties from pressure-plate IEDs (168 casualties – 69 deaths and 99 injured). UNAMA reiterates that pressure-plate IEDs are indiscriminate killing devices and calls upon Anti-Government Elements to immediately cease their use and remove any devices already emplaced.
The UN mission welcomed the decreases in casualties associated with these tactics as compared to the same period last year, but notes with concern the 26 per cent increase in civilian casualties from complex and suicide attacks (354 casualties – 86 deaths and 268 injured).
At least 127 deaths and 242 injuries were incurred by the pro-government forces, UNAMA said, adding that 6 death and 21 injuries were caused by the Afghan Air Force and International Military Forces in the first quarter of 2016.
The mission also added that it has documented a five per cent increase in women casualties (195 women casualties – 52 deaths and 143 injured) and a 29 per cent increase in child casualties (610 children casualties – 161 deaths and 449 injured) compared to the first three months of 2015.