UN report: Civilian casualties in Afghanistan hit a record
By PHILLIP WALTER WELLMAN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 6, 2017
KABUL, Afghanistan — A record number of civilians were injured or killed in 2016 in the war in Afghanistan, with children hit especially hard, the United Nations said in a report Monday. The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan documented 11,418 civilian casualties last year, an increase of 3 percent over 2015. Of that number, 3,498 were deaths and 7,920 were injuries.
While civilian deaths dropped by 2 percent from 2015, injures jumped by 6 percent. The total number of casualties was the highest number since 2009, when UNAMA began systematic documentation.
The group attributed most of the civilian deaths and injuries, 61 percent, to anti-government forces. Pro-government forces were said to be responsible for 24 percent of all cases, of which international military forces were accountable for 2 percent.
UNAMA expressed concern over what it found to be a 24 percent increase in children casualties. A total of 3,512 were recorded last year, including 923 deaths.
“Children have been killed, blinded, crippled — or inadvertently caused the death of their friends — while playing with unexploded ordnance that is negligently left behind by parties to the conflict,” Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in the report.
“The consequences of each act of violence ripple through families and entire communities that are left broken, unable to sustain themselves and largely failing to obtain any semblance of justice or reparation,” he said.
UNAMA recorded a record number of casualties from ground engagements, suicide and complex attacks, explosive remnants of war and aerial operations last year, which contributed to the 3 percent overall casualty increase.
Tadamichi Yamamoto, the special representative in Afghanistan for the U.N. secretary-general, said the conflict was destroying lives “in every corner of Afghanistan.”
“Real protection of civilians requires commitment and demonstrated concrete actions to protect civilians from harm and for parties to the conflict to ensure accountability for indiscriminate and deliberate acts of civilian harm,” he said.
Since 2009, 24,841 civilians have been killed and 45,347 injured in the war in Afghanistan.
“It is about time the various parties to the conflict ceased the relentless commission of war crimes and thought about the harm they are doing to their mothers, fathers, children and future generations by continuing to fuel this senseless, never-ending conflict,” Al-Hussein said.