Afghan forces

2015 had most Afghan civilian casualties in 7 years: UN report

With the recorded deaths and injuries of 10534 civilians in Afghanistan in 2014, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in its annual report that this was the highest number of civilian casualties since 2009.But last year recorded yet another rise in the number of civilians hurt or killed.

UNAMA in its 2015 Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict says that the number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan during 2015 are the highest recorded.The report released today is produced by UNAMA in coordination with the UN Human Rights Office.It shows that increased ground fighting in and around populated areas, along with suicide and other attacks in major cities, were the main causes of conflict-related civilian deaths and injuries in 2015.

“This report records yet another rise in the number of civilians hurt or killed. The harm done to civilians is totally unacceptable,” said Nicholas Haysom, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA. “We call on those inflicting this pain on the people of Afghanistan to take concrete action to protect civilians and put a stop to the killing and maiming of civilians in 2016.”

UNAMA documented 11,002 civilian casualties (3,545 deaths and 7,457 injured) in 2015, exceeding the previous record levels of civilian casualties that occurred in 2014. The latest figures show an overall increase of four per cent during 2015 in total civilian casualties from the previous year. UNAMA began its systematic documentation of civilian casualties in 2009.

Ground engagements between parties to the conflict caused the highest number of total civilian casualties (fatalities and injuries), followed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and suicide and complex attacks. Ground engagements caused the most fatalities amongst civilians, followed by targeted and deliberate killings.

“The people of Afghanistan continue to suffer brutal and unprincipled attacks that are forbidden under international law,” said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. “This is happening with almost complete impunity. The perpetrators of the violations, documented by UNAMA and my staff, must be held to account. And the international community should emphasise far more vigorously that the rights of civilians should be protected.”

Anti-Government Elements continued to cause the most harm – 62 per cent of all civilian casualties – despite a 10 per cent reduction from 2014 in the total civilian casualties resulting from their attacks. Notwithstanding the overall decrease, the report documents Anti-Government Elements increasing use of some tactics that deliberately or indiscriminately cause civilian harm, including targeted killings of civilians, complex and suicide attacks, as well as indiscriminate and illegal pressure-plate IEDs. In addition this reduction of Anti-Government Elements caused casualties must be considered in the light of the increase in unattributed casualties.

Civilian deaths and injuries caused by Pro-Government Forces caused 17 per cent of civilian casualties – 14 per cent from Afghan security forces, two per cent from international military forces, and one per cent from pro-Government armed groups. The report documents increased civilian casualties caused by Pro-Government Forces, including during ground engagements, aerial operations, and the activities of pro-Government armed groups.

Fighting between the parties to the conflict, which could not be attributed to one specific party, caused 17 per cent of civilian casualties. Unattributed explosive remnants of war caused four per cent and cross-border shelling from Pakistan into Afghanistan caused less than half of one per cent.

Ground engagements between parties to the conflict caused 4,137 civilian casualties (1,116 deaths and 3,021 injured) – a 15 per cent increase from 2014 – and the leading cause of civilian casualties in Afghanistan. Improvised explosive devices caused 2,368 civilian casualties (713 deaths and 1,655 injured). While this represents a 20 per cent decrease it is still the second leading cause of civilian casualties in Afghanistan.

In 2015, UNAMA documented a 37 per cent increase in women casualties and a 14 per cent increase in child casualties.

“In 2015, the conflict caused extreme harm to the civilian population, with particularly appalling consequences for children. Unprecedented numbers of children were needlessly killed and injured last year – one in four casualties in 2015 was a child,” said Danielle Bell, UNAMA Director of Human Rights.  “Other children suffered the loss of parents, and increasingly their mothers, sisters, and female role models – one in 10 casualties was a woman.”


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