More than 10,000 civilians lost their lives or suffered injuries in Afghanistan in 2017, the United Nations said Thursday, with militant bombings the main cause while airstrikes by U.S. and government forces inflicted a rising toll.
In its annual report released on Thursday, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the UN Human Rights Office, documented 3,438 deaths and 7,015 injuries – a nine percent decline from the record-high figure in 2016.
“The chilling statistics in this report provide credible data about the war’s impact, but the figures alone cannot capture the appalling human suffering inflicted on ordinary people, especially women and children,” Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan said in a statement.
The second leading cause of civilian casualties in 2017 was ground engagements between anti-government elements and pro-government forces, although there was a decrease of 19 percent from the record levels seen in 2016.
The report attributed 42 percent of the casualties to the Taliban, 10 percent to Islamic State (IS) also known as Daesh and 13 percent to other anti-government elements.
Pro-government forces, including Afghan national security forces and international military forces caused a fifth of the civilian casualties.
The deadliest attack since the U.N. mission began recording civilian casualties in 2009 was in Kabul on May 31 when a suicide attacker detonated a truck bomb, killing 92 civilians and injuring 491.
The air campaign by international and government forces accounted for 6 percent of civilian casualties in 2017, with 295 people killed and 336 wounded, a 7 percent increase over the previous year.
“Afghan civilians have been killed going about their daily lives – traveling on a bus, praying in a mosque, simply walking past a building that was targeted. The people of Afghanistan, year after year, continue to live in insecurity and fear, while those responsible for ending lives and blighting lives escape punishment,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein in the statement.
“Such attacks are prohibited under international humanitarian law and are likely, in most cases, to constitute war crimes. The perpetrators must be identified and held accountable,” he added.