Published: Thu, February 15, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

UN Records 9 Percent Drop in Afghan Civilian Casualties

UN Records 9 Percent Drop in Afghan Civilian Casualties

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) reported that civilian deaths across the country fell nine percent overall in 2017, with 10,453 casualties including 3,438 deaths and 7,015 wounded.

"When we see civilians being deliberately targeted, you wonder how long that this (has) to go on", Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN's special representative in Afghanistan, told reporters in Kabul.

Pro-government forces caused a fifth of the civilian casualties according to the report, with 16 percent attributed to the Afghan national security forces, two percent to global military forces, one percent each to pro-government armed groups and undetermined pro-government forces. But the figures highlighted the high number of casualties caused by militant bombs, the United Nations said.

Two-thirds of all casualties a year ago were inflicted by anti-government forces, with the Taliban responsible for 42 percent, Islamic State 10 percent and 13 percent caused by undetermined anti-government elements.

The decrease was mainly due to Afghan security forces being more considerate of civilian casualties by, for example, reducing indiscriminate fire into densely populated areas.

"UNAMA documented 631 civilian casualties (295 deaths and 336 injured) from aerial operations conducted by pro-government forces, a seven per cent increase from 2016, and the highest number from airstrikes in a single year since 2009", the press release said.

"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", he said in a statement.

Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani said during a press conference on Sunday that the Taliban-claimed January 27 attack near a public hospital, in which over 100 people got killed, was "Afghanistan's 9/11".

"Such attacks are prohibited under global humanitarian law and are likely, in most cases, to constitute war crimes".

"While we did see an improvement on the battlefield by Taliban and pro-government forces, more still needs to be done". They claimed both attacks.

Women and children were heavily affected by the violence with 359 women killed last year, an increase of 5 percent over the previous year - and 865 injured.

The United Nations says the number of civilians killed or injured in the fighting and terror attacks in Afghanistan dropped by 9 percent a year ago.

The UNAMA also noted that the number of airstrikes carried out by worldwide military forces and the Afghan air force grew significantly in 2017 which had an impact on the number of casualties. Child casualties - 861 killed and 2,318 injured - decreased by 10 percent compared to 2016.

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