UN: Afghan civilian casualties decreased 9 per cent in 2017
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KABUL — The number of civilians killed and wounded in the war in Afghanistan declined last year, but the number of deaths from airstrikes was on the rise, according to a new United Nations report released on Thursday.
The total number of civilian casualties decreased by 9
"The chilling statistics in this report provide credible data about the war's impact, but the figures alone cannot capture the appalling human suffering inflicted on ordinary people, especially women and children," said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the U.N. special representative for Afghanistan.
The 2017 Annual Report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in Afghanistan found that between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2017, there were 10,453 civilian casualties — 3,438 deaths and 7,015 wounded.
That compares to a total 11,434 casualties for the same period in 2016, when there were 3,510 deaths and 7,924 wounded.
But the decline in total deaths was tempered by the report's finding that the number of airstrikes conducted by international military forces and Afghan air forces increased significantly — and with it the number of airstrike-related deaths.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan documented 631 civilian casualties — 295 deaths and 336 wounded — from aerial operations conducted by pro-government forces. That's a 7
Danielle Bell, a U.N. official for human rights in Afghanistan, said the reduction "is an important step" but cautioned that 2017 was the "fourth consecutive year, where the emission recorded more than 10,000 civilian causalities."
Afghanistan has been mired in conflict since 2001 when the United States invaded after
Suicide and complex attacks — when assailants combine two or more modes of attack on one target at the same time — caused 22
The report attributes close to two thirds of all casualties to militant groups fighting the government, mainly the Taliban, but also IS and other, undetermined anti-government elements.
Less than 5
Yamamoto, who also heads UNAMA, expressed deep concern at the increased harm to civilians caused by suicide attacks.
"I am particularly appalled by the continued indiscriminate and unlawful use of (improvised explosive devices) such as suicide bombs and pressure-plate devices in civilian populated areas," he said. "This is shameful."
UNAMA also documented an increase in attacks against places of worship, religious leaders and worshippers, recording 499 civilian casualties with 202 deaths and 297 injured, during 38 such attacks in 2017. This amounted to three times as many attacks as in 2016, double the number of deaths and 30
In 2017, women continued to suffer at levels comparable to 2016. Contrary to the overall decrease in civilian casualties, women casualties increased by less than one
In line with the overall reduction in civilian casualties in 2017, child casualties decreased by 10
"When we document these appalling civilian causality figures, it hurts, because it counters the best interest of this country," Yamamoto told reporters in Kabul on Thursday.
"Each of these figures represents a hope crushed for a better future," he added.