The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released a special report on Sunday and voiced their serious concerns about the increasing use of IEDs against civilians.
In a statement issued with the report, UNAMA said anti-government elements must immediately end the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of all improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in areas frequented by civilians.
The special report – titled “Increasing Harm to Afghan Civilians form the Deliberate and Indiscriminate Use of Improvised Explosive Devices” – documents a sharp increase from 1 January - 30 September 2018 in the killing and maiming of Afghan civilians by IEDs, which have caused almost half of the civilian casualties from conflict-related violence.
These attacks primarily involved the use of suicide and non-suicide IEDs: bombs designed, planned and placed to detonate among crowds of civilians to kill and maim Afghan men, women and children; destroy livelihoods; disrupt lives; and create terror among survivors, read the statement.
The report identifies the victims of these deliberate attacks as including midwifery students and students preparing for university entrance exams; players and spectators at cricket and wrestling matches; worshippers at mosques; humanitarian aid workers; education officials; civilian government staff providing essential services to Afghans, as well as civilians seeking to access those government services; and election workers, and men and women attempting to participate in the electoral process.
Of grave concern, the report documents how medical personnel and journalists responding to suicide and other IED attacks were also targeted with such devices.
“Deliberately targeting civilians is a war crime and cannot be tolerated,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan.
“Beyond the immediate and direct harm caused to victims and their families, the long-lasting effects of suicide and other IED attacks on the wider civilian population cannot be ignored,” said Yamamoto, who is also head of UNAMA.
“The unpredictable nature of these types of attacks has caused Afghans unbearable suffering and forced them to live in fear of the next explosion, severely curtailing their ability to carry out normal lives.”
Suicide and other IED attacks directed at the civilian population as well as the indiscriminate use of these tactics are serious violations of international humanitarian law. The widespread use of IED attacks directed against Afghanistan’s civilian population, including religious or ethnic minorities, may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity, and requires investigation by competent authorities.
UNAMA maintains that all parties must immediately cease the deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian objects, and provides recommendations in the report for immediate measures to be taken to prevent further civilian deaths and injuries from these attacks.
According to the report, throughout 2018, anti-government elements intensified their attacks in civilian areas and against the civilian population, increasingly using IEDs containing large amounts of explosives as well as using multiple devices, resulting in rising levels of civilian casualties.
Civilian deaths and injuries arising from the combined use of suicide and non-suicide IEDs reached record high levels in the third quarter of 2018, the report stated.
Between 1 January and 30 September 2018, UNAMA documented 3,634 civilian casualties (1,065 deaths and 2,569 injured) from suicide and non-suicide IED attacks.
These casualty figures include 247 women casualties (72 deaths and 175 injured) and 608 child casualties (155 deaths and 453 injured).
During the period covered by this report, suicide IED attacks killed and injured increasing numbers of women and children, mainly due to a rise in the deliberate targeting of civilian objects where women and children were present.
Between 1 January and 30 September 2018, civilian casualties from attacks with all types of IEDs increased by 21 percent compared with the same period in 2017, while the number of civilian casualties from suicide IED attacks increased by 46 percent.
The use of suicide IEDs alone caused more civilian deaths and injuries than any other tactic, including ground engagements.
Non-suicide IEDs also continued to cause extremely high levels of civilian casualties – most concerningly from indiscriminate victim-activated pressure-plate IEDs.
UNAMA attributed all civilian casualties from suicide and non-suicide IEDs during this period to anti-government elements, with 52 percent of civilian casualties attributed to Daesh, 40 percent to Taliban, and the remainder to undetermined anti-government elements.
Kabul province continued to record the highest number of civilian casualties from armed conflict, mainly due to suicide IED attacks by anti-government elements in densely populated civilian areas of the capital.
Between 1 January and 30 September 2018, UNAMA documented 1,402 civilian casualties (433 deaths and 969 injured) in Kabul city, with 99 percent of these caused by suicide and other IED attacks. So far in 2018, the mission has documented 34 IED incidents causing civilian casualties in Kabul province (23 suicide IED attacks and 11 non-suicide IED attacks).
CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL REPORT https://unama.unmissions.org/protection-of-civilians-reports