Armed conflict in Afghanistan has killed over 700 and injured nearly 1,500 civilians in the first 3 months of this year, said the United Nations in a report on Thursday.
The quarterly report on Afghanistan by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said 763 civilians were killed and 1,495 others injured between January 1 and March 31 this year, a similar figure to the same period in 2017.
The total of 2,258 civilian casualties (deaths and injury), are at the similar levels recorded in the first three months of 2017 and 2016, the report said.
UNAMA expressed concern that anti-government elements alone caused 1,500 civilian casualties, up six per cent from the same period last year.
A new trend UNAMA found in 2018 is that suicide improvised explosive devices (IED) and complex attacks were the leading cause of civilian casualties. UNAMA found that ground engagements were the second leading cause, followed by targeted and deliberate killings, explosive remnants of war, and aerial operations.
On the other hand, pro-government forces, including Afghan security forces, government-sponsored militias, and international troops, have caused a reduction in civilian casualties by 13 percent compared to the previous year, killing and injuring 407 civilians.
“All parties to the conflict in Afghanistan must do everything in their power to protect civilians from harm,” said Ingrid Hayden, the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan.
“Afghan civilians continue to suffer, caught in the conflict, in ways that are preventable; this must stop now,” she urged.
For the whole of 2017, the UN said 3,438 civilians were killed and 7,015 others injured. It was the fourth year in a row with more than 10,000 civilian casualties.
UNAMA recorded 583 child casualties (155 deaths and 428 injured) in the first three months of 2018, an overall decrease of 23 per cent compared to the same period in 2017. The decrease mainly resulted from fewer children killed and injured during ground engagements, though this incident type remained the leading cause of child casualties.
UNAMA voiced it concern that children again comprised the vast majority (89 per cent) of civilian casualties from explosive remnants of war. It also pointed out that child recruitment by anti-government elements remains a problem and the mission continued to receive disturbing reports of child recruits killed in military operations in the first quarter of 2018.
The UN figures are considered a conservative estimate because they need at least three independent sources to officially register a case. (Source: UN)