Civilian fatalities down, injuries up in 1st quarter of 2016: UN
KABUL(Pajhwok): Six hundred civilian died in Afghanistan's conflict in the first quarter of the current year, showing a significant decrease from the same period last year, the United Nations said on Sunday.
However, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) noted a spike in the number of the civilians wounded. It said 1,343 people were injured during the first three months of 2016.
According to figures from UNAMA, civilian deaths fell by 13 percent, compared to the first quarter of 2015. Bu the number of civilians wounded went up by 11 percent. The highest number of civilian casualties was caused by ground fighting.
“Consistent with 2015 trends, ground engagements caused the highest number of total civilian casualties, followed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs), complex and suicide attacks, as well as targeted killings,” the report said.
It blamed insurgents for 60 per cent of casualties and pro-government forces for 19 per cent. Sixteen per cent of casualties resulted from fighting which could not be attributed to a specific party.
The cut in fatalities was linked to a significant decrease in casualties from targeted killings (103 deaths and 76 injured) and a 17 per cent decline in casualties attributed to IEDs (113 deaths and 272 injured).
While welcoming the decreases, the UN mission noted with concern the 26 per cent increase in civilian deaths and injuries from complex and suicide attacks (86 deaths and 268 injured).
It urged all parties to the conflict, specifically the Taliban, to cease the use of complex and suicide attacks on civilian targets and to apply a definition of civilian target in line with international humanitarian law.
UNAMA condemned the January 20 Taliban suicide attack on the Moby Group staff shuttle bus that killed eight civilians and injured 30 others. The mission voiced concern at the group’s continuing threats to independent media outlets.
Pro-government forces were held responsible for 127 deaths and 242 injured, causing 85 per cent more civilian casualties during ground engagements than in the first quarter of 2015 (96 deaths and 192 injured).
The government was urged to minimize the use of such weapons in civilian areas and to thoroughly investigate negligent use of such weapons.
The mission regretted civilian casualties from aerial operations by both Afghan Air Force and NATO troops during the period, with 27 casualties (six deaths and 21 injured).
Increased fighting in populated areas continued to kill and injure women and children at higher rates than the general population, said the mission, which documented a five per cent increase in women casualties (52 deaths and 143 injured) and a 29 per cent hike in child casualties (161 deaths and 449 injured).
“In the first quarter of 2016, almost one third of civilian casualties were children,” said Danielle Bell, UNAMA’s human rights director. “If the fighting persists near schools, playgrounds, homes and clinics, and parties continue to use explosive weapons in those areas – particularly mortars and IED tactics, these appalling numbers of children killed and maimed will continue.”
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.