Children account for one-third of civilian casualties in Afghanistan’s grinding conflict in the first three months of 2017, and are paying an increasingly high price in the fighting, a UN report said.
According the quarterly report released by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, there were 2,181 civilian casualties during the first three months of 2017.
The report says that there was a 24 percent increase in women civilian casualties in the first quarter of the year compared with the same period the year before.
Among the 273 women casualties, 88 were dead and 185 injured.
“We are extremely concerned about the increase in the number of casualties among women and children, particularly deaths,” said the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), which has documented civilian victims of the conflict since 2009.
“The 17 per cent increase in child casualties reflects the failure of parties to the conflict to take adequate precautions to protect civilians, including through marking and clearing unexploded ordnance after fighting ends,” said Danielle Bell, head of human rights for UNAMA.
The report accused anti-government elements, without specifying Taliban or the Islamic State group, of intentionally targeting civilians.
“During an armed conflict, the intentional killing and injuring of civilians is a war crime,” Yamamoto said in the release. “Anti-Government Elements must stop this deplorable practice and everybody must apply- and respect – the definition of ‘civilian’ provided by international humanitarian law.”
“It is civilians, with increasing numbers of women and children, who far too often bear the brunt of the conflict,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN envoy to Afghanistan.
“With the so-called fighting season imminent, I appeal to all parties to take every measure possible to prevent unnecessary and unacceptable harm to Afghan civilians.”
Kabul province had the highest number of casualties to multiple attacks in the capital, followed by provinces where fighting is most sustained such as Helmand, virtually under Taliban control; Kandahar and Uruzgan in the south, and Nangarhar in the east, where the Islamic State group is in a turf war with the Taliban.