UN renews call for protection of Afghan civilians, after casualty figures spike in 2016


UNITED NATIONS, Feb 6 (APP): Attacks in Afghanistan by the Taliban, ISIL /Da’esh and pro-government troops killed or injured more children and other civilians in 2016 than at any other time since the United Nations began keeping records, it was announced Monday.
According to the new UN report, some 11,418 civilian casualties were confirmed last year, including 2,589 children – an increase of 24 per cent since the previous high in 2015.
Releasing the casualty figures at a press conference in Kabul, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Tadamichi Yamamoto,
called the killing and maiming of thousands of Afghan civilians “deeply harrowing and largely preventable.”
“All parties to the conflict must take immediate concrete measures
to protect the ordinary Afghan men, women and children whose lives are being shattered,” Yamamoto, who is also the head of the UN Assistance Mission in the country (UNAMA), said.
A breakdown of the figures shows that 3,498 people were killed, among them 923 children, and 7,920 civilians were injured, including 2,589 children.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said
the casualty figures painted a picture of the most vulnerable sectors of society paying the highest price.
“Children have been killed, blinded, crippled – or inadvertently caused the death of their friends – while playing with unexploded ordnance that is negligently left behind by parties to the conflict,” Zeid said. His Office, known by the acronym OHCHR, works annually with UNAMA to produce the report.
UN investigators said they found that anti-government forces, mainly
the Taliban, were responsible for almost two-thirds of the casualties,
while pro-government forces were responsible for almost one-quarter. In addition, casualties caused by airstrikes carried out by Afghan and international forces nearly doubled since 2015.