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UNAMA Report Shows 23 Percent Decrease in Civilian Casualties

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(Last Updated On: April 24, 2019)

The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) says in a report that the number of civilian casualties from the Afghan conflicts has a 23 percent decrease compared to the same period last year.

In the first quarter of 2019, the UNAMA continued to document high levels of harm to civilians from the armed conflict. From 1 January to 31 March 2019, UNAMA documented 1,773 civilian casualties (581 deaths and 1,192 injured), including 582 child casualties (150 deaths and 432 injured), the report says.

This represents a 23 percent decrease in overall civilian casualties as compared to the same period last year and is the lowest for a first quarter since 2013, the report adds.

The overall reduction of civilian casualties was driven by a decrease in civilian casualties by suicide improvised explosive device (IED) attacks, the report notes.

UNAMA notes the particularly harsh winter conditions during the first three months of the year, which may have contributed to this trend, the report underscores.

It is unclear whether the decrease in civilian casualties was influenced by any measures taken by parties to the conflict to better protect civilians, or by the ongoing talks between parties to the conflict, the report says.

UNAMA says that the mission remains very concerned by the continued targeting of civilians and increase in civilian casualties from the use of non-suicide IEDs by Anti-Government Elements, as well as significant increases in civilian casualties from aerial and search operations, which drove an overall increase in civilian casualties by Pro-Government Forces.

Civilian deaths attributed to Pro-Government Forces surpassed those attributed to Anti-Government Elements during the first quarter of 2019, the report further says.

Between 1 January and 31 March 2019, UNAMA attributed 608 civilian casualties (305 deaths and 303 injured) to Pro-Government Forces, representing a 39 percent increase from the same period last year.

UNAMA notes with concern that Pro-Government Forces were responsible for more civilian deaths than Anti-Government Elements during the first quarter of 2019. UNAMA attributed 17 percent of civilian casualties to the Afghan national security forces, 13 percent to international military forces, two percent to pro-Government armed groups, and two percent to multiple Pro-Government Forces.

Between 1 January and 31 March 2019, UNAMA recorded 18 incidents that impacted education, 4 12 of which were attributed to Anti-Government Elements, four to Pro-Government Forces, and two jointly to Anti-Government Elements and Pro-Government Forces. Four of these incidents involved attacks by Taliban targeting girls’ schools in Farah province, mostly in areas under their control, including setting the school buildings and equipment on fire. While no casualties were recorded, the attacks spread fear among the students and their families and led to school closures, affecting education for almost 3000 girls.

During the first three months of 2019, Anti-Government Elements remained responsible for the majority of civilian casualties, causing 963 civilian casualties (227 deaths and 736 injured), representing a 36 percent decrease as compared to the same time period in 2018, the report adds.

According to the report, UNAMA attributed 39 percent of civilian casualties to Taliban, 12 percent to Daesh and three percent to unidentified Anti-Government Elements.

UNAMA remains seriously concerned about Anti-Government Element attacks that deliberately target civilians, including the civilian government administration. 

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House-to-house polio vaccination campaign to recommence across Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: October 19, 2021)

A nation-wide polio vaccination campaign will resume in Afghanistan next month, UNICEF announced Monday.

In a statement issued by the organization, the World Health Organization and UNICEF welcomed the decision by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) leadership supporting the resumption of house-to-house polio vaccination campaign.

The vaccination campaign, which begins on November 8, will be the first in over three years to reach all children in Afghanistan, including more than 3.3 million children in some parts of the country who have previously remained inaccessible to vaccination campaigns.

“This is an extremely important step in the right direction,” said Dapeng Luo, WHO Representative in Afghanistan.

“We know that multiple doses of oral polio vaccine offer the best protection, so we are pleased to see that there is another campaign planned before the end of this year. Sustained access to all children is essential to end polio for good. This must remain a top priority,” he said.

With only one case of wild poliovirus reported so far in 2021, Afghanistan has an extraordinary opportunity to eradicate polio. Restarting polio vaccination now is crucial for preventing any significant resurgence of polio within the country and mitigating the risk of cross-border and international transmission.

“This decision will allow us to make a giant stride in the efforts to eradicate polio,” said Hervé Ludovic De Lys, UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan.

“To eliminate polio completely, every child in every household across Afghanistan must be vaccinated, and with our partners, this is what we are setting out to do,” he said.

The polio programme has started preparations to rapidly implement the nationwide vaccination campaign, which is a result of ongoing high-level dialogue between the UN and the IEA leadership to swiftly and urgently meet the health needs of the people in Afghanistan.

“This is not only a win for Afghanistan but also a win for the region as it opens a real path to achieve wild poliovirus eradication,” said Dr Ahmed Al Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean.

In addition to this, UNICEF reported that as the overall health system in Afghanistan remains vulnerable, all parties have agreed to immediately start measles and COVID-19 vaccination campaigns in order to mitigate against the risk of a rise in diseases and deaths.

This will be complemented with the support of the polio eradication programme and with outreach activities that will urgently begin to deliver other life-saving vaccinations through the national expanded programme for immunization, UNICEF reported.

While the safety and security of health workers remains a prime concern for the polio programme, the IEA leadership has expressed their commitment for the inclusion of female frontline workers and for providing security and assuring the safety of all health workers across the country.

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Iran to host multilateral conference on Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: October 19, 2021)

Foreign ministers of Iran, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Russia are expected to meet in Tehran next week for talks on Afghanistan.

Tehran will host the meeting of Afghanistan’s neighbours plus Russia on October 27, which will be attended by all six foreign ministers.

During a press conference on Monday, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh announced that “the six countries will be focused on how they can help form an inclusive government in Afghanistan with the presence of all ethnic groups, and how they can help shape a future of peace and security in Afghanistan.”

Khatibzadeh said Iran has maintained contact with all parties in Afghanistan, including the IEA.

Earlier this year, Tehran hosted intra-Afghan talks that included the IEA before the armed group took control of Afghanistan.

Iran has, however, refused to participate in any talks hosted or participated by the United States, which it says was a main cause of instability and violence in the country.

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Top U.S. envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad steps down

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(Last Updated On: October 19, 2021)

Top U.S. envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad is stepping down, the State Department said on Monday, less than two months after the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan [IEA] takeover of the country, Reuters reported.

Khalilzad will be replaced by his deputy, Tom West, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement, noting that West will work closely with the U.S. embassy, which is now based in Doha, on U.S. interests in Afghanistan, read the report.

According to the report a person familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity that Khalilzad submitted his resignation on Friday.

His departure follows his exclusion from the Biden administration’s first formal talks with the IEA after the U.S. pullout, held in Doha earlier in October.

Khalilzad did not immediately respond to a request for comment, Reuters reported.

Khalilzad, born in Afghanistan, held the post since 2018 and spearheaded the negotiations with the IEA that led to the February 2020 agreement for the withdrawal of U.S. forces this year.

He then pressed the IEA and the Western-backed government of former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to negotiate a political settlement to decades of strife.

In mid-August, the government collapsed as the IEA swept through the country and marched into the capital, Kabul, unopposed. Khalilzad was left seeking the militants’ assistance in the U.S. evacuation of U.S. citizens and at-risk Afghans who worked for the U.S. government.

Current and former U.S. officials told Reuters earlier that in the three years Khalilzad had been in the role, he became the face of one of the largest U.S. diplomatic failures in recent memory.

U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the veteran American diplomat relinquished leverage to the IEA, continuously undermined the Afghan government, and had little interest in hearing different viewpoints within the U.S. government, Reuters reported.

CNN first reported Khalilzad’s plan to resign.

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