According to a report by the United Nations Assistance Mission, in the first nine months of 2019 the UN documented 2,563 civilians killed and 5,676 injured, which is similar to the same period from last year; however, in the third quarter—July 1 to September 30--UNAMA documented an unprecedented spike in civilian casualties, with 1,174 civilian deaths and 3,139 injured.
“This is the highest number of civilian casualties UNAMA has recorded in a single quarter since it began systematic documentation in 2009.” This was a 42 percent increase from the previous year.
The report also stated:
“Similarly, July witnessed the highest number of civilian casualties that UNAMA has ever recorded in a single month: 1,589 civilian casualties (425 deaths and 1,164 injured). The rise in civilian casualties during the third quarter was mainly due to a significant increase in civilian casualties from suicide and non-suicide IED attacks by Anti-Government Elements, primarily the Taliban.”
The report claimed there is an increase of civilian casualties “because of aerial and search operations undertaken by pro-government forces,” but the major cause was insurgent groups: “The sharp increase in the recent quarter is due most of all to the civilian casualties caused by anti-government elements.”
Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan has called on all warring sides to avoid further harm to the Afghan civilians during combat operations.
“Civilian casualties at record-high levels clearly shows the need for all parties concerned to pay much more attention to protecting the civilian population, including through a review of conduct during combat operations,” said Yamamoto.
Yamamoto decried the tragic uselessness of such death in the face of “widespread recognition that there can be no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.”
In addition to detailing civilian casualties and their causes, UNAMA’s latest report indicates that 41 per cent of all civilian casualties in Afghanistan were women and children. In the first nine months of 2019, UNAMA documented 923 women casualties (261 killed and 662 injured) and 2,461 child casualties (631 killed and 1,830 injured).
UNAMA called on all parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations to protect civilians from harm and strictly adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law.