UN Notes Decrease In Civilian Casualties But Remains Concerned

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan says in a quarterly report that it has documented high levels of harm to civilians but adds that there has been 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 says the UN documented 1,773 civilian casualties (581 deaths and 1,192 injured), including 582 child casualties (150 deaths and 432 injured) between January 1 and March 31.

In the first quarter of 2018, UNAMA documented 2,305 civilian casualties (799 deaths and 1,506 injured), including 609 child casualties (176 deaths and 433 injured), the report says.

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

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

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 mentions.

UNAMA says it remains 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 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.

The report says that ground engagements were the leading cause of civilian casualties, causing approximately one-third of the total.

A single mortar attack incident by Daesh on 7 March 2019 in Kabul caused approximately one-fifth of all civilian casualties from ground engagements, the report says, adding that the use of IEDs was the second leading cause of civilian casualties.

During the first quarter of 2019, UNAMA documented four suicide IED attacks resulting in 178 civilian casualties, as compared to 19 incidents resulting in 751 civilian casualties during the same period in 2018, the report says. All four attacks were attributed to Taliban.

Civilian casualties from ground engagements also reduced by 13 percent, the report says.

“UNAMA is very concerned by Anti-Government Elements’ continued targeting of civilians and the increase in civilian casualties from non-suicide IEDs (21 percent increase), as well as the continuing, significant increase in civilian casualties from aerial operations (41 percent increase) and search operations (85 percent increase) by Pro-Government Forces,” the report says.

The report says that 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 per cent decrease as compared to the same time period in 2018. UNAMA attributed 39 percent of civilian casualties to Taliban, 12 percent to Daesh, and three percent to unidentified Anti-Government Elements.

Contrary to 2017 and 2018 trends, the majority of IED civilian casualties were caused by non-suicide IEDs rather than suicide IEDs, the report says.

Aerial operations were the leading cause of civilian deaths and the third leading cause of civilian casualties, followed by targeted killings and explosive remnants of war. Civilians living in Kabul, Helmand, Nangarhar, Faryab and Kunduz provinces were most affected (in that order).

The overall decrease in civilian casualties was largely driven by a significant – 76 percent – reduction in civilian casualties from suicide IED attacks, the report says.

During the first quarter of 2019, UNAMA documented four suicide IED attacks resulting in 178 civilian casualties, as compared to 19 incidents resulting in 751 civilian casualties during the same period in 2018. All four attacks were attributed to Taliban. Civilian casualties from ground engagements also reduced by 13 percent.

The report says that UNAMA remains concerned by Anti-Government Elements’ continued targeting of civilians and the increase in civilian casualties from non-suicide IEDs (21 percent increase), as well as the continuing, significant increase in civilian casualties from aerial operations (41 percent increase) and search operations (85 percent increase) by Pro-Government Forces.

Meanwhile, the US Forces- Afghanistan Spokesman, Col. Dave Butler, said the US and Resolute Support Forces in Afghanistan strive for percision in all their operations.

“We hold ourselves to the highest standards of accuracy and accountability.  We strive for precision in all of our operations.  We reserve the right of self-defense of our forces as well as the Afghan Security Forces. The best way to end the suffering of non-combatants is to end the fighting through an agreed-upon reduction in violence on all sides. The Taliban are ultimately responsible for the suffering and deaths of their fellow Afghans as long as they ignore their demands for peace,” Butler said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *