By Shadi Khan Saif
Civilians again bore the brunt of violence in Afghanistan in 2016 that saw a large number of children among the 3,498 dead, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in its annual report on Monday.
The report documented 11,418 conflict-related civilian casualties, including 3,498 people killed and 7,920 injured. Of these, 3,512 were children -- 923 dead and 2,589 injured, up by 24 percent from the previous highest-ever recorded figure.
The conflict-related violence exacted a heavy toll on in the country, with an overall deterioration in civilian protection and the highest-total civilian casualties recorded since 2009, when the UN mission began systematic documentation of casualties, it said.
Civilian casualties caused by Daesh loyalists in Afghanistan also increased by almost 10 times during the same time period. "The majority of the casualties caused by Daesh/ISKP occurred in three large-scale attacks [in 2016] on the Shia Muslim community," the report said.
The year 2016 was also the second year since NATO handed over nationwide security duties to the nascent Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANSF).
NATO’s estimated 13,000-strong residual force, including 9,800 U.S. troops is now said to be mainly focused on advising, training and supporting the ANSF.
In 2015, the first year when the Afghan forces took charge, UNAMA documented 11,002 civilian casualties -- 3,545 deaths and 7,457 injured -- exceeding the figures from 2014.
The 2016 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, suicide and complex attacks, as well as targeted and deliberate killings.
Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan, warned the levels of civilian casualties, displacement and other types of human suffering are likely to remain at appallingly high levels unless all parties to the conflict make serious efforts to review and address the consequences of their operations.
“The killing and maiming of thousands of Afghan civilians is deeply harrowing and largely preventable,” Yamamoto said while sharing the findings of the report with the press in Kabul on Monday.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.