Civilian casualties spike in Afghanistan
Last Updated: Wednesday, August 11, 2010, 20:49
United Nations: Civilian casualties have shot up in Afghanistan, with the first half of the year witnessing 3,268 cases of civilians being killed or injured, 31 per cent more against the same period last year.

According a mid-year report by the UN on Afghanistan 1,271 persons died and 1,997 were injured, most of them severely, in the first six months of the year, and women and children are increasingly bearing the brunt of the war.

"It is a wake up call for us," said Staffan de Mistura, the top UN official in Afghanistan.

The UN said that this 31 per cent translated into 3,268 civilian casualties in the last six months out of which 1,271 died and 1,997 were injured, most of them severely.

"This is a critical period of a critical year, and in this context, if anyone is trying to reach some type of future of Afghanistan that we all are striving and hoping together with Afghans to reach, it cannot be done over a mountain of civilian deaths," he added.

It said of the total, 2,477 civilian Afghan casualties were caused by the anti-government elements, which include the Taliban, and 386 by the pro-government forces which includes the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

"The devastating human impact of these events underscores that, nine years into the conflict, measures to protect Afghan civilians effectively and to minimise the impact of the conflict on basic human rights are more urgent than ever," said Georgette Gagnon, director of human rights for the UN in Afghanistan.

The UN report underlined that more sophisticated improvised explosive devices (IEDs) had largely contributed to the rise in civilian deaths as compared to 2009.

Further, the number of civilians assassinated and executed by AGEs rose by more than 95 per cent.

"This intensified pattern of assassinations and executions reinforced the widespread perception of Afghan civilians that they are becoming more and more the primary target in this period of conflict," said de Mistura.

The number of children killed or wounded has risen 55 per cent from the same period last year, according to the report, which also found that there were 6 per cent more women casualties as compared to last year.

"Afghan children and women are increasingly bearing the brunt of this conflict. They are being killed and injured in their homes and communities in greater numbers than ever before," said de Mistura.

The report also noted that civilian deaths caused by pro-government forces aerial attacks had decreased 64 per cent from the same period in 2009.


First Published: Wednesday, August 11, 2010, 20:49

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