Civilian casualties in Afghanistan have hit a record high this year, a new UN report says, highlighting worsening violence as US-led troops leave after more than a decade of fighting the Taliban.
Casualties jumped 19 percent by the end of November compared to the year before, with 3,188 civilians killed and 6,429 injured, the United Nation’s Mission’s for Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a report published on Friday.
“Men, women and children are suffering an enormous human cost as the transition evolves in Afghanistan,” Georgette Gagnon, the Director of Human Rights at UNAMA, said at a briefing held Friday at the UN Headquarters in New York.
The report warned that civilian casualties were expected to exceed 10,000 by the end of the year, making it the deadliest year for noncombatants since the organization began issuing its authoritative reports in 2009.
Compared to 2013, this year also saw a 33 percent rise in casualties among children and a 12 percent increase among women, according to the report.
While ground fighting between troops and rebel groups and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) remained leading causes of deaths and injuries, the Taliban were accountable for 75 percent of all civilian casualties, the report said. In previous years, planted bombs killed the most civilians.
UNAMA continues to advocate and lobby all parties, particularly “anti-government elements”, to do much more to abide by their legal obligation under international law and under Afghan law to reduce civilian casualties and to not attack civilians either deliberately or indiscriminately.
“Civilian casualties are particularly tragic and very prominent part, even benchmark, of the horror of the violence that ordinary Afghans face,” said Nicholas Haysom, the top UN envoy in Afghanistan.
In total, the U.N. has documented 17,252 civilian deaths and 29,536 injuries since they began tracking civilian casualties in 2009.
Meanwhile, as US-led NATO troops prepare to wrap up their 13-year combat mission, casualties among Afghan security forces have also increased, with more than 4,600 killed in the first 10 months of this year.
After NATO’s combat operations end on December 31, a follow-up mission of about 12,500 US-led NATO troops will stay on in Afghanistan to train and support the local security forces now responsible for fighting the Taliban.