Civilian deaths and injuries by parties to the Afghanistan conflict, 2009-2015. Graphic: UNHCR

By Mujib Mashal
17 April 2016

KABUL, Afghanistan (The New York Times) – With nearly 2,000 civilians killed or wounded and more than 80,000 people displaced this year already, the Afghan conflict continues to affect lives in record numbers, the United Nations said on Sunday.

The report came as fighting raged across several provinces. For a third day, government forces repelled Taliban attacks across several districts of Kunduz and were trying to prevent the insurgents from taking the provincial capital, as they did in the fall.

The United Nations mission in Afghanistan documented 600 civilian deaths and 1,343 wounded in the first three months of 2016, which by most accounts is expected to be a bloody year as the Taliban rejected the latest efforts to bring them to peace talks. While the death toll fell 13 percent from the same period last year, the number of wounded increased 11 percent, the report said, with a high rise among children.

“In the first quarter of 2016, almost one-third of civilian casualties were children,” said Danielle Bell, the United Nations human rights director in Afghanistan. “If the fighting persists near schools, playgrounds, homes, and clinics, and parties continue to use explosive weapons in those areas — particularly mortars and I.E.D. tactics — these appalling numbers of children killed and maimed will continue.”

The report blamed the insurgents for 60 percent of the casualties, and forces on the government side for 19 percent.

Though the Taliban were still at fault more often, the report noted that deaths caused by pro-government forces were up sharply from last year — roughly 70 percent higher over the same period. The deaths caused by government forces, put at 127 over the first three months of this year, were mostly caused by explosive weapons, including mortars, rockets and grenades, the report said.

The United Nations also expressed concern at the increase of civilian casualties in airstrikes by the Afghan government and the United States-led NATO coalition.

The spread of fighting also continues to displace people at record levels, with 81,445 individuals forced from their homes in the first three months of the year, according to figures from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. [more]

Civilian Casualties in Afghan War Are Unabated in 2016

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