New figures by Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) indicate that 596 civilians were killed and 1,892 others were wounded in clashes between government forces and the Taliban and other attacks by militants in Afghanistan since the beginning of the current solar year which coincides with March 21, 2019.
The CEO of the AIHRC, Musa Mahmoodi, told TOLOnews that 733 of the victims are children who have either been killed or wounded in the conflicts during the period.
“Unfortunately, measures were not taken to reduce the number of civilian casualties,” he said. “In some areas, we saw a sharp rise among vulnerable victims.”
He said the operations in which the casualties happened were carried out by pro-government forces against militants in different parts of the country. But he added that "the Taliban were involved in most part of the casualties".
The figures, he said, cover the past three months.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, Rohullah Ahmadzai, said the government forces are implementing measures to protect civilians during their operations.
“Narrow mistakes are committed in some cases in which civilians are hurt but we are working on full prevention of harm [to civilians[,” Ahmadzai said.
On July 12, the Human Rights Watch said in a report that Afghan special forces raided a medical clinic in Wardak province on the night of July 8-9, 2019, and killed four civilians.
However, later, the Ministry of Defense said the operation was conducted against militants.
Wardak residents called on the government to protect civilians during their operations.
“The government should consider a change in its plans. Civilians must be protected,” a Maidan Wardak Sayed Amir said.
An MP from Maidan Wardak, Abdul Rahman, said civilian casualties in pro-government forces operations is “a tragedy” and “horrific”.
“The main reason is unconfirmed and unauthentic intelligence reports,” said Mir Haidar Fazli, an MP.
UN Report on Civilian Casualties
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said in a quarterly report on April 24 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.
The report says the UN 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.
The overall reduction of civilian casualties was driven by a decrease in civilian casualties by suicide improvised explosive device (IED) attacks, the report says.
UNAMA notes the particularly harsh winter conditions during the first three months of the year, which may have contributed to this trend, the report says.
It is unclear whether the decrease in civilian casualties was influenced by any measures taken by parties to the conflict to better protect civilians, or by the ongoing talks between parties to the conflict, the report mentions.