Published: Tue, February 07, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

Record number of child casualties cited in Afghan conflict, United Nations report says

Record number of child casualties cited in Afghan conflict, United Nations report says

The report also cited a 3% increase in total conflict-related civilian casualties compared to past year - the highest number since the the United Nations started documenting the deaths and injuries in the conflict in 2009.

"The killing and maiming of thousands of Afghan civilians is deeply harrowing and largely preventable", Tadamichi Yamamoto, the United Nations' Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan told a news conference unveiling the figures [PDF link here].

"Children have been killed, blinded, crippled - or inadvertently caused the death of their friends - while playing with unexploded ordnance that is negligently left behind by parties to the conflict", Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in the report.

The UN mission attributed 4,953 civilian casualties (1,618 deaths and 3,335 injured) to Taliban and 899 civilian casualties (209 deaths and 690 injured) to Daesh.

UNAMA documented 11,418 civilian casualties (3,498 deaths and 7,920 injured); marking a two per cent decrease in civilian deaths and six per cent increase in civilians injured.

He called the Afghan forces 'second major perpetrators of civilian casualties.

Within hours Afghan forces bolstered by reinforcements and air support repelled the militants, though fighting continued in the outskirts.

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Since 2009, when the United Nations started tracking the numbers of deceased and maimed, the Afghanistan conflict has resulted in the deaths of 24,841 and injuries of 45,347.

It added that airstrikes carried out by Afghan and global forces also caused more civilian casualties than in 2015.

It documented a 66 percent increase in such deaths in 2016.

"The intensification of efforts by Taliban and other anti-government element groups to seize or maintain territory led to a correlated increase in civilian casualties from ground engagements", said UNAMA.

The U.N. mission said the almost 25 percent increase in child deaths from the previous year was largely caused by mines and munitions left over from decades of conflict.

"The increased capacity of Daesh/ISKP to strike beyond its perceived areas of influence and presence in eastern Afghanistan exacerbated the escalation in conflict and deteriorating security environment", the report says.

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