The Afghan government on Monday said it is taking all necessary steps to protect the lives of civilians and to minimize damage to their property during military operations.
In a press release issued by ARG (the Presidential Palace) it was stated that government had carefully studied the report released on Monday by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on the civilian casualties in Afghanistan in 2016.
“The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan puts the safety of lives and properties of the civilians among its fundamental agenda and main objectives. Government will consider legal action in case damage is caused by the security and defense forces to civilians,” the press release reads.
ARG’s statement comes just hours after UNAMA issued its annual report – at the same time calling on all warring parties in Afghanistan to take urgent steps to halt the killing and maiming of civilians.
UNAMA documented the highest ever number of civilian casualties in a single year, including record figures for children killed and injured in 2016.
The ARG press release states that the president has always called on the Afghan defense and security forces to ensure safety of civilians during operations.
“The president once again clarifies that the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan instead considers the Taliban and other terrorist groups accountable to ensure the safety of people’s lives and properties,” the press release concludes.
ARG’s statement was in response to UNAMA’s report which attributed 2,728 civilian casualties (903 deaths and 1,825 injured) to Pro-Government Forces in 2016 – a 46 percent increase compared to 2015 − accounting for 24 percent of all civilian casualties.
UNAMA attributed 20 percent of total civilian casualties to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) 2,281 civilian casualties (706 deaths and 1575 injured); two per cent to international military forces, 262 casualties (145 deaths and 117 injured); and two percent to pro-Government armed groups, 185 civilian casualties (52 deaths and 133 injured).
The report stated over half - 53 percent - of civilian casualties caused by Pro-Government Forces, mainly ANSF, to the use of indirect and/or explosive weapons during ground engagements, mainly mortars and artillery, with 1,449 civilian casualties (379 deaths and 1,070 injured).
UNAMA stated that Pro-Government Forces caused at least 41 percent of all civilian casualties during ground engagements in 2016.
Aerial operations remained the second leading cause of civilian casualties by Pro-Government Forces in 2016, accounting for 22 percent of all civilian casualties attributed to this factor.
In 2015, UNAMA attributed 1,866 civilian casualties (628 deaths and 1,238 injured) to Pro-Government Forces.
In its report, UNAMA said: “The mission emphasizes that the government must hold accountable all Pro-Government Forces responsible for such incidents.”