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Govt. express concerns over civilian deaths

US Gen. rejects UNAMA’s methods and findings

 AT News Report

KABUL: The government of Afghanistan shares UNAMA’s concern about the increase in civilian deaths from the first to the second quarter of 2019, the Office of National Security Council said in a statement on Tuesday.

Moreover, a U.S. General in Afghanistan rejected UNAMA’s methods and findings.  

The UN report finds that armed opposition groups continue to be responsible for the majority of civilian casualties. As the government redoubles its efforts for peace, we are taking concrete steps to protect civilians from enemy attack, reduce civilian casualties during combat operations, and provide aid to civilian survivors and the displaced, the statement added.

The three-pronged approach – protection, mitigation and relief – remains a priority at the highest levels of government and security sector leadership, the statement added.

According to the statement in protection efforts the country’s security forces seized at least 27 tons of explosives in the first six months of the year, saving countless lives.

The National Disaster Management Authority’s demining operation has cleared 20,996 unexploded ordnances, IEDs and antipersonnel mines, reducing civilian casualties from these sources from 682 in the first six months of 2018 to 544 in the comparable period this year, the statement said, adding the security sector continues to remain vigilant in protecting our citizens from harm.

In Mitigation, the statement said in June 2019, President Ghani issued a directive to all security sector leaders to take prompt and concrete measures to protect civilian lives during conflict. In July, the National Security Council established a committee to study civilian protection trends and help craft policy responses to mitigate the war’s effects on civilians.

The Ministry of Defense, which oversees the Afghan Air Force, completed training workshops for high-level officials in five military corps across the country, the statement said, adding the National Security Council is exploring further civilian protection measures, including training for security forces and policy and operational responses.

In parts of relief, the security council’s statement said that the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority helped 13,467 conflict-affected families with basic emergency supplies across the country in the first six months of 2019.

The government also provides support to communities receiving conflict-displaced families and facilitates humanitarian aid delivery by non-governmental organizations, the statement added. 

The enemy continues to attack civilian targets such as educational centers and hospitals. They stage their attacks from residential areas, exposing civilians to harm. In contrast, the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces make tireless efforts to suppress the enemy and protect civilians’ lives. Protection of civilians is the government’s constitutional duty and remains a top priority, the statement concluded.

“We assess and investigate all credible allegations of non-combatant casualties in this complex environment where as others intentionally target public areas, use civilians as human shields and attempt to hide the truth through lies and propaganda,” said Co. Sonny Leggett, USFOR-A Spokesman said.

He said, “our evidence collection is more thorough, evidentiary and accurate than UNAMA’s. We work closely with the Afghan Security Force leadership to prevent non-combatant casualties and investigate credible allegations. USFOR-A rejects UNAMA’s methods and findings.”

“Sources with limited information and conflicted motives are not always credible. We follow the highest standards of accuracy and accountability and always work to avoid harm to civilian non-combatants,” Col. Sonny added.

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