Against the sobering backdrop of the ongoing intense conflict across Afghanistan, the United Nations expressed concern over civilians being killed in high numbers and urged all parties to the conflict to meet their obligations to protect civilians from harm.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has found that anti-government elements deliberately and knowingly targeted civilians throughout the holy month of Ramadan. The attacks by anti-government elements mainly used improvised explosive devices and caused more than 100 civilian casualties in Kabul alone.
UNAMA has urged these anti-government elements to stop attacking the civilian population of Afghanistan.
“In international law, all parties to the conflict are prohibited from deliberate attacks carried out against civilians; by definition these are war crimes and may amount to crimes against humanity,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA. “There is no justification whatsoever for any party to the conflict to attack civilians; they must never be a target.”
UNAMA’s findings indicate that, throughout Ramadan, civilians were deliberately targeted by anti-government elements, including during the 8 May attack on NGO staff in Kabul; the 24 May assassination of a religious scholar in a place of worship; the 27 May and 3 June incidents targeting civilian government officials; and the 2 June attack against Shia students.
“I condemn these deliberate attacks on civilians that signal a disturbing intent to spread fear; they delegitimize the perpetrators, depriving them of any claim to represent the people of Afghanistan,” said Yamamoto. “It is crucial that all respect their obligations under international law to protect civilians.”