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Bitter reality; Civilian casualties hit highest record since 2009: UNAMA 

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By Farhad Naibkhel-KABUL: The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on Monday released its annual report regarding civilian causalities, showing highest record incurred during the year 2016.

The UN mission said it documented 11, 418 conflict-related civilian casualties, including 3,498 killed and 7,920 injured, that recorded highest civilian casualties since 2009.

Report finding demonstrated that out of the above mentioned casualties, 3,512 were children, (923 dead and 2,589 injured) showing up 24 percent on the previous highest recorded figure. The figures, recorded by UN in the country, are the highest since the UN began systematically documenting civilian casualty figures in 2009.

“In 2016 UNAMA documented 11,418 civilian casualties, which revealed three percent increase compare to the previous high record documented in 2015”, said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan.

He said that the killing and maiming of thousands of Afghan civilians was deeply harrowing and largely preventable.

He insisted that “all parties to the conflict must take immediate concrete measures to protect the ordinary Afghan men, women and children whose lives are being shattered.”

Moreover, the finding showed that anti-government forces, mainly the Taliban insurgents, were responsible for almost two thirds of the casualties while pro-government forces were responsible for almost one quarter.

The report notes that as in 2015, ground engagements between Anti-Government Elements and Pro-Government Forces, particularly in areas populated or frequented by civilians, remained the leading cause of civilian casualties, followed by Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), suicide and complex attacks, as well as targeted and deliberate killings.

The report also documented increase in attacks perpetrated by Daesh/ISKP (Islamic State Khorasan Province), particularly targeting Shia Muslims. UNAMA documented 899 civilian casualties (209 deaths and 690 injured), a ten-fold increase from last year. The majority of the casualties caused by Daesh/ISKP occurred in three large-scale attacks on the Shia Muslim community.

Airstrikes carried out by Afghan and international forces caused 590 civilian casualties (250 deaths and 340 injured) nearly double that recorded in 2015 and the highest since 2009.

Director of Human Rights Unit of UNAMA Danielle Bell, said that “the mission recorded the majority of the civilian casualties in Kabul province, followed by Helmand, Kandahar, Nangarhar, Uruzgan and Kunduz.”

She said that “ground engagement remained the main leading cause of civilian casualties, followed by Improvised Explosive Device, IED, suicide and complex attacks.”