The US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, who is on a multi-nation trip on Afghan peace, reiterated his call on the Taliban to join other Afghans in their efforts for end the ongoing war and said the real solution to end the bloodshed in Afghanistan is a ceasefire.
Khalilzad said in a tweet that the Taliban say “a ceasefire is not part of the agenda,” but added that for United States, “peace is the agenda”.
Khalilzad said that the Afghan people have had enough violence and want an end to the war. “The United States stands with them. I challenge Talibs to join other Afghans and work to make this the year of peace,” he added.
Khalilzad, meanwhile, raised his concerns over civilian casualties and said the “real solution” to end the war and move towards peace is a ceasefire.
“We deeply regret any loss of innocent life during military operations. We never target innocents. War is treacherous and unintended consequences are devastating. While we strive to prevent casualties, real solution is a ceasefire or reduced violence as we pursue lasting peace,” he said.
“We are distressed by reports of civilian casualties, each one an unnecessary victim of a war that has gone too long. Sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends. Their deaths outrage us all and we stand with Afghans who protest the deaths and want to end the bloodshed,” concluded Khalilzad.
This comes a day after the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan in a report documented 1,773 civilian casualties (581 deaths and 1,192 injured), including 582 child casualties (150 deaths and 432 injured) between January 1 and March 31.
In the first quarter of 2018, UNAMA documented 2,305 civilian casualties (799 deaths and 1,506 injured), including 609 child casualties (176 deaths and 433 injured), the report says.
in a quarterly report that it has documented high levels of harm to civilians but adds that there has been a 23 percent decrease in overall civilian casualties as compared to the same period last year and is the lowest for a first quarter since 2013.
But a day before the UNAMA report, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) said At least 11,000 civilians were killed and wounded in Afghanistan during the 1397 solar year which coincides with March 2018 to March 2019.
The figures show a 19 percent increase in civilian fatalities compared to a year before, the AIHRC Chairperson Sima Samar said at a press conference on Tuesday.
She said that although the number of civilian deaths saw some decrease during last year but added that the number of those sustained injuries during this period has sharply increased.
The UNAMA report, however, noted that During the first three months of 2019, Anti-Government Elements remained responsible for the majority of civilian casualties, causing 963 civilian casualties (227 deaths and 736 injured), representing a 36 percent decrease as compared to the same time period in 2018. UNAMA attributed 39 percent of civilian casualties to Taliban, 12 percent to Daesh, and three percent to unidentified Anti-Government Elements.
During the first quarter of 2019, UNAMA documented four suicide IED attacks resulting in 178 civilian casualties, as compared to 19 incidents resulting in 751 civilian casualties during the same period in 2018. All four attacks were attributed to the Taliban. Civilian casualties from ground engagements also reduced by 13 percent.