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UN Counts All-Time High Civilian Deaths in Afghanistan

(Last Updated On: July 15, 2018)

The number of civilian deaths hit an all-time high in the first half of the current year, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said in a report released on Sunday.

Deaths rose 1 percent to 1,692, although injuries dropped 5 percent to 3,430, the UN report said.

The report says the number is the highest six-month death toll since the systematic documentation of civilian casualties started in 2009.

Overall civilian casualties were down 3 percent since last year.

“The use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in attacks by Anti-Government Elements remained the leading cause of civilian casualties,” the UN said.

“The combined use of suicide and non-suicide IEDs caused nearly half of all civilian casualties,” it added.

The suicide attacks and bombings claimed by Islamic State (IS) attributed to 52 percent of civilian casualties mainly in Kabul and Nangarhar province while the Taliban were responsible for 40 percent. The remainder were attributed to unidentified Anti-Government Elements, the UN report said.

Ground engagements were the second leading cause of civilian casualties, followed by targeted and deliberate killings, aerial operations, and explosive remnants of war.  Civilians living in the provinces of Kabul, Nangarhar, Faryab, Helmand and Kandahar were most impacted by the conflict.

UNAMA recorded 1,355 child casualties (363 deaths and 992 injured), a 15 percent drop compared to the same period in 2017. Though UNAMA recorded decreases in child casualties from explosive remnants of war, 89 percent of civilian casualties from explosive remnants of war were children.

The death toll came despite last month’s unprecedented cease-fire in the country by the Afghan security forces and the Taliban.

“The brief ceasefire demonstrated that the fighting can be stopped and that Afghan civilians no longer need to bear the brunt of the war,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan.

 “We urge parties to seize all opportunities to find a peaceful settlement – this is the best way that they can protect all civilians,” said Yamamoto, who is also head of UNAMA.

The UN also said that casualties from air strikes, which have intensified, went up by 52 percent, with 353 casualties including 149 dead and 204 wounded.

More than half of the civilian casualties were caused by the Afghan Air Force. International forces were blamed for 45 percent of the casualties from aerial attacks.

With reporting by RFE/RL

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