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Editorial: Civilians, the most war victims

The Afghan civilians are still paying the highest price in fight against insurgency. The prolonged war in the country continues claiming civilians’ lives. Civilians are being killed and wounded by crossfire, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), attempts, bombings, etc. The Afghan National Security and Defense Forces and insurgents should be cautious to protect civilians during their military operations. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on Sunday released its first quarter civilian casualty data for 2016 that showed continued record numbers of civilian casualties. Danielle Bell, UNAMA’s Human Rights Director said that in the first quarter of 2016, almost one third of civilian casualties were children. If the fighting persists near schools, playgrounds, homes and clinics, and parties continue to use explosive weapons in those areas – particularly mortars and IED tactics, these appalling numbers of children killed and maimed would continue. UNAMA documented 1,943 civilian casualties (600 deaths and 1,343 injured) in the period between 1 January and 31 March, 2016. These figures mark an overall increase in civilian casualties of two percent compared to the same period in 2015 with a 13 percent decrease in deaths but an 11 percent increase in injuries. Consistent with 2015 trends, ground engagements caused the highest number of total civilian casualties, followed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs), complex and suicide attacks, as well as targeted killings. The Mission has documented a five percent increase in women’s casualties (195 women casualties – 52 deaths and 143 injured) and a 29 percent increase in child casualties (610 children casualties – 161 deaths and 449 injured) compared to the first three months of 2015. Ground engagements caused the highest number of women casualties, followed by suicide and complex attacks, and IEDs. For children, ground engagements killed and maimed the most, followed by unexploded ordinance and IEDs. There is no denying to the fact that Afghan children are making the future of this war-hit country, but unfortunately, they are being killed in different attacks. Afghanistan during its long-time war has left behind the legacy of unexploded bombs and shells that are killing and maiming people where the vast majority are children. It is the need of the hour that all stake holders in Afghan conflict should come to a conclusion in a bid to put a full stop to the war for the sake of innocent people and also children who are losing their lives in different incidents. There is no law in the world to justify the killing of innocent people. Killing of civilians intentionally or unintentionally, by any groups, whether its pro-government forces or anti-government militants is a big crime.

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