Kabul, Oct 27 (efe-epa).- The armed conflict in Afghanistan killed or injured 5,939 civilians during the first nine months of 2020, a 30 percent drop year-on-year the marked the lowest civilian casualties since 2012, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said on Tuesday.
In its latest quarterly report, the UNAMA said that 2,117 civilians were killed and 3,822 injured between Jan. 1 – Sep. 30, 2020.
“While the number of civilian casualties documented is the lowest in the first nine months of any year since 2012, the harm done to civilians remains inordinate and shocking,” the report said.
According to the information, more than four out of every 10 casualties were reported among the most vulnerable sections of the population: 31 percent of the victims being children and 13 percent women.
The UNAMA also expressed concern over the fact that the period between Sep. 12-30, during which the Afghan government and the Taliban had begun peace negotiations in Doha, did not witness any reduction in the “civilian casualties caused by parties involved in the talks in comparison to previous weeks.”
The UN mission also highlighted the Taliban offensive against the city of Lashkargah, capital of the central Helmand province, along with numerous indiscriminate attacks across provinces which have killed or injured more than 400 civilians in recent weeks.
“The peace talks will need some time to help deliver peace. But all parties can immediately prioritize discussions and take urgent, and frankly overdue, additional steps to stem the terrible harm to civilians,” said Deborah Lyons, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan.
The report said that insurgent groups were responsible for 58 percent of the civilian casualties, including 45 percent caused by the Taliban, a figure lower than earlier partly due to a drop in victims of suicide bombings and ground engagements.
Around 28 percent of the casualties were attributed to government forces, also lower than other years due to fewer military air-strikes since March, while 14 percent of the casualties were not directly attributed to any party as they involved civilians caught in crossfire.
Ground engagements, mainly between the Taliban and the Afghan national security forces, caused more than one third of all civilian casualties, followed by suicide and non-suicide improvised explosive devices (29 percent), targeted killings (16 percent) and air-strikes (8 per cent).
The UNAMA reiterated that all parties in the conflict “must and should” do more to protect civilians from harm “by urgently reviewing practices and strengthening mitigation measures, as well as working towards an end to the fighting.”
The Afghan government and the Taliban kicked off the preliminary meetings to begin peace negotiations in early September.
However, even after weeks of discussions the two sides have failed to reach a significant breakthrough in deciding the norms to govern a dialog that seeks to end almost two decades of war. EFE-EPA