Children made up 31% of the overall civilian casualties according to the UN’s midyear report on civilians in armed conflict in Afghanistan, said Save the Children, and condemned the killing of minors.
“Attacks on civilians—especially children—can never be tolerated. Not only do they kill and injure innocent people, they also impact the longer-term physical, emotional and mental development of children,” said Milan Dinic, Country Director for Save the Children in Afghanistan on Monday.
He added that the Afghan conflict is taking a “terrible toll” on the country’s children, at least 340 of whom have been killed since January 2020.
More than 700 were wounded, many with life-changing injuries like amputations or head trauma, not to mention the invisible yet equally damaging post-traumatic stress many children are suffering from, Dinic noted.
The vast majority of civilian casualties in Afghanistan were caused by indirect fire or improvised explosives in populated areas with ground engagement accounting for 35% of overall casualties.
“This is extremely concerning and is an indictment of all parties who have so far failed to abide by international humanitarian law to protect civilians from harm,” the charity said.
“These past few months have been some of the deadliest in recent times, with a spike in the number of attacks that have killed or injured civilians,” the director noted, adding, “At a time when Afghanistan should be focusing on the COVID-19 outbreak and its devastating effects on the economy and the livelihoods of millions, the extreme violence is causing untold distress and preventing children from accessing education, healthcare and other vital services.”
The UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) recorded 3,458 Afghan civilian casualties in the first six months of 2020, where 1,282 were killed and 2,176 were injured.
The conflict in Afghanistan remains one of the most dangerous for children.
The UNAMA report held pro-government forces responsible for the most child deaths and said children were especially vulnerable to recruitment and use by parties to the conflict, including for combat functions, during the COVID-19 pandemic.