Afghan civilians continue to suffer in ‘ugly war’: UN

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United Nations, July 18 (IANS) The UN mission in Afghanistan said on Monday that civilians continue to bear the brunt of Afghanistan’s “ugly war.”

“Civilian lives, including those of women and children, continue to be lost at record high levels amid a worsening toll of suicide attacks,” Xinhua quoted head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Tadamichi Yamamoto, as saying.

The official also called on anti-government forces to stop indiscriminate attacks against civilians as well as on the government to stop using mortars and rockets in populated areas.

“The human cost of this ugly war in Afghanistan — loss of life, destruction and immense suffering — is too far too high,” he added.

According to the UN Mission’s 2017 Mid-year Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in Afghanistan, 1,662 civilians died (up 2 per cent on the same period last year) and 3,581 were injured (down 1 per cent) between January 1 and June 30.

Many of those casualties occurred in a single attack in Kabul city on May 31, when a truck bomb killed at least 92 civilians and injured nearly 500. This was the deadliest incident documented by UNAMA since 2001.

Women and children in the country continue be particularly affected. In the report, the UN Mission noted that so far this year, 174 women were confirmed killed and 462 injured (an overall rise of about 23 per cent), reversing a decline documented in 2016.

Child casualties, overall also increased by 1 per cent, with 436 deaths (9 per cent increase) and 1,141 injuries, it added, highlighting that the use of pressure-plate IEDs and aerial operations in civilian-populated areas led to substantial increases in both women and child casualties.

Also in the news release, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights underscored that behind each death or injury, there is a broken family, unimaginable trauma and the brutal violation of people’s rights.

“Many Afghan civilians are suffering psychological trauma, having lost family and friends, and are living in fear knowing the risks they face as they go about their daily lives,” he stated.

The UNAMA report also highlighted that 40 per cent of all civilian casualties during the six-month period were due to anti-government forces using IEDs, such as suicide bombs and pressure-plate devices.

Pro-government forces were responsible for 327 civilian deaths and 618 injuries, a 21 per cent decrease compared with the same period last year, although UNAMA noted a 43 per cent rise in civilian casualties during aerial operations (95 deaths and 137 injuries).

–IANS

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