• publish: 17 October 2019
  • time: 8:44 pm
  • category: Opinion
  • No: 10966

UN decries ‘unprecedented’ civilian casualties in Afghanistan

The United Nations says an “unprecedented” number of civilians were killed or injured in the third quarter of 2019 across violence-wracked Afghanistan, calling the violence “totally unacceptable.”

In a new report released Thursday, the United Nations said 1,174 people were killed and another 3,139 wounded from July to September this year.

July alone saw more casualties than in any other month on record since the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) began documenting the violence in 2009, it noted. 

The figures represent a 42 percent increase over the same time period last year.

The first six months of the year had seen casualties drop somewhat compared to previous years. 

The UN recorded 8,239 civilian casualties in total in the first nine months of 2019 — 2,563 killed and 5,676 injured. Some 41 percent of them were women and children, UNAMA said.

The report laid most of the blame for the spike at the feet of “anti-government elements” such as the Taliban.

Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN’s special representative for Afghanistan, said “civilian casualties are totally unacceptable.”

“Civilian casualties at record-high levels clearly show the need for all parties concerned to pay much more attention to protecting the civilian population,” said Yamamoto.

The figures show the need for peace talks leading to a ceasefire and a permanent political settlement, he added.

“The harm caused to civilians by the fighting in Afghanistan signals the importance of peace talks leading to a ceasefire and a permanent political settlement to the conflict; there is no other way forward,” said Yamamot.

“Civilian casualties are totally unacceptable, especially in the context of the widespread recognition that there can be no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.

Fiona Frazer, UNAMA’s Human Rights chief, also said that “the impact of Afghanistan’s conflict on civilians is appalling,”

“The United Nations will continue its advocacy work with all parties to the conflict until Afghanistan reaches the only acceptable number of civilians killed and injured in the conflict: zero,” said Frazer.

UNAMA has previously blamed both the US military and the Taliban militants for a spike in civilian deaths in Afghanistan. In its annual report, UNAMA said that civilian deaths in 2018 had increased 11 percent compared to 2017, with 3,804 people killed, including 927 children.

Prospects for peace in Afghanistan appeared more remote after peace talks between the militant group and the White House collapsed earlier last month in Qatar’s capital, Doha.

After calling off the peace talks, Trump suggested the Taliban were coming under surging military pressure and claimed in a speech marking the September 11, 2001 incidents that “the last four days, we have hit our enemy harder than they have ever been hit before, and that will continue.”

The US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 and overthrew a Taliban regime in power at the time. But insecurity has spiked, and US forces have remained bogged down there through the presidencies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and now Donald Trump.

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