UN urges dialogue on curbing civilian deathsBy Syed Mudassir Ali Shah Feb 26, 2013 - 13:13
KABUL (PAN): The United Nations on Tuesday acknowledged the Taliban’s open letter of Feb. 2013 in response to its annual report on civilian casualties during the conflict in 2012.
The UN mission hailed the Taliban statement as an invitation to engage in meaningful dialogue on human rights and humanitarian issues on the benefit of all Afghans.
In their open letter, the Taliban rubbished the UN report, calling the world body’s claims unilateral and baseless. The report was far from reality, reflecting no sign of neutrality, the group said.
“In your reports, you always hold the Taliban responsible for a large number of civilian casualties, but you don’t give details about the numbers and places of the collateral damage.
“This in itself is cause for concern,” remarked the Taliban spokesman, who blamed most of the civilian deaths on NATO airstrikes and ground operations by Afghan and foreign forces.
According to the UN report, civilian casualties dropped by 12 percent for the first time in six years in 2012. It recorded 2,754 civilian deaths and 4,805 injuries.
In total, 81 per cent of civilian casualties in 2012 were attributed to the insurgents and eight percent to operations by security forces. Eleven per cent of civilian casualties were unaccounted for.
In a statement released on Tuesday, UNAMA said the dialogue should also focus on the treatment of civilians in armed conflict in conformity with international humanitarian law and on the treatment of detainees.
“UNAMA encourages the Taliban to review the full details of its report which provides answers to some of the points raised in their (Taliban’s) open letter”.
The UN mission affirmed its readiness to engage in dialogue in an effort to increase the protection of civilians and respect for human rights throughout the country.