UNAMA and UN Human Rights Office in their latest report have conceded that civilians deaths reached a record high in 2018 as more civilians were killed in the Afghan conflict last year than at any time since records have been kept.
The report documented 3,804 civilian deaths in 2018, out of which 927 were children-the highest recorded number of boys and girls killed in the conflict during a single year.
In total, UNAMA documented 10,993 civilian casualties (3,804 deaths and 7,189 injured), representing a five per cent increase in overall civilian casualties and an 11 per cent increase in civilian deaths compared to 2017.
UNAMA attributed the majority of civilian casualties –63 per cent– to Anti-Government Elements (AGEs), 37 per cent to Taliban, 20 per cent to Daesh/Islamic State Khorosan Province (ISKP), and 6 per cent to undetermined AGEs.
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Pro-Government Forces caused 24 per cent of civilian casualties –14 per cent by Afghan national security forces, six per cent by international military forces, as well as four per cent by other pro-Government armed groups and forces.
Key factors contributing to the significant increase in civilian casualties were a spike in suicide attacks by AGEs, mainly Daesh/ISKP, as well as increased harm to civilians from aerial and search operations by Pro-Government Forces.
Thus, 2018 witnessed the highest number of civilian casualties ever recorded from suicide attacks and aerial operations.
“The report’s rigorously researched findings show that the level of harm and suffering inflicted on civilians in Afghanistan is deeply disturbing and wholly unacceptable,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan. “All parties need to take immediate and additional concrete steps to stop a further escalation in the number of civilians harmed and lives destroyed.”
This is the UN’s tenth annual report documenting the condition of civilians in the Afghan conflict –more than 32,000 civilians were killed and around 60,000 injured in a decade.
“The conflict in Afghanistan continues to kill far too many civilians and has caused long-lasting suffering, both physical and psychological, to countless others,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet. “The fact that the number of children killed this year is the highest on record, is particularly shocking. In addition to the lives lost, the dire security situation is preventing many Afghans from enjoying their economic, social and cultural rights, with thousands of children already handicapped for life because of attacks on schools and medical facilities,” Bachelet added. “So I call on all parties to the conflict to fully respect international humanitarian and international human rights law to protect the lives of all civilians.”