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Editorial: The ugly face of war

Civilian casualties dramatically rose in Afghanistan, and the past year (2019) was worst. Citing the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, the Special Inspector for Afghanistan Reconstruction said in a report that 1,174 deaths and 3,139 injuries were documented during this quarter. This marked a 42 percent increase in casualties when compared with 2018’s numbers from the same period. In particular, more civilian casualties were reported in July of last year than the UNAMA has ever documented in a single month. Some of these casualties — 85 deaths and 373 injuries — were related to the Afghan government’s presidential election that was held on Sept. 28, the report found. The primary culprit behind election-related attacks in 2019? The Taliban, who the report said was responsible for more than 80 percent of total civilian casualties stemming from 2019 election-related violence. Afghanistan is now in its fourth decade of warfare, making it one of the most protracted conflicts in recent history. Unfortunately, the more war ignites the more civilians find themselves in tenterhook with fear of more casualties. Afghan masses become fed up with the ongoing war that no end sees in sight. Many children also killed in the conflict, many more lost their parents and breadwinners, triggering into extreme poverty. War brings nothing but devastation and chaos. Figures released by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan showing record-high levels of civilian casualties in the third quarter of 2019 indicate an urgent need for all parties to the conflict to do more to protect civilians from harm. Overall, in the first nine months of 2019, UNAMA documented 8,239 civilian casualties (2,563 killed and 5,676 injured) – similar high levels of harm experienced by Afghanistan’s civilian population in the corresponding nine-month periods from 2014 to the present. Verified civilian casualties from 1 July to 30 September increased by 42 percent in comparison to the same period in 2018. Civilians are the prime victim of this ugly war. The more annoying is when on Wednesday night at least 40 civilians, including women and children were dead in airstrikes in Shindand district of Herat province. The first casualty of the year 2020 so far. However, sources said that Mullah Nangyalai, a top commander of the Taliban’s splinter faction, led by Mullah Rassoul, has been killed with about 30 or 35 other Taliban militants in the strike. Afghan Ministry of Public Health released figures showing that conflict-related violence in the past 12 months has left more than 3,300 civilians dead and over 14,600 others wounded. This war has to be stopped, and the only way to it is to embrace peace. The ongoing peace process must be supported because military means failed to restore peace and stability.

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