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Women casualties up by 23pc: UNAMA

By Farhad Naibkhel-KABUL: The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on Wednesday released a report documenting 559 women civilian casualties—revealing 23 percent increase in the first six months of 2015 across the country.

Director of Human Rights Unit of UNAMA, Danielle Bell, said that the UNAMA protection of civilian in armed conflict midyear report covers the first six months of 2015 documented 559 women civilian casualties including 164 deaths and 395 wounded, which demonstrated a 23 percent increase as compared the same period in 2014.

Speaking at a press conference here she said that the rise in the numbers of women and children killed and maimed from conflict-related violence is particularly disturbing.

“This year, UNAMA recorded the highest number of children and women casualties compared to the same period in previous years. All parties to the conflict must undertake stronger measures to protect civilians from harm. When the conflict kills or maims a mother, child, sister or brother, the repercussions for families and communities are devastating and long-lasting,” she said.

The report also documented 1,270 child casualties including 320 deaths 970 injured, showing a 13 percent increase this year.

She said that the UNAMA midyear report covers the first six months of 2015. The report documented 4,921 civilian casualties (1,592 civilian death and 3329 injured), which revealed overall one percent increase compared as the same period of the year 2014.

She said that majority of casualties, 90 percent of the civilian casualties, caused by ground engagements, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), suicide attacks and targeted killings.

She highlighted that although, UNAMA documented a reduction of three percent in civilian casualties caused by anti-government forces but still UNAMA attributed 70 percent of civilian casualties to anti-government elements.

Pro-government forces caused 16 percent of civilian casualties, 15 percent Afghan National Security Forces and one percent from International Military forces, she said.

The report also said that unattributed crossfire between the parties to the conflict caused 10 percent of civilian casualties, while unattributed explosives remnants of war caused the remaining four percent.

The report says that despite of 19 percent decrease still the ground engagements remained as the leading cause of civilian casualties, 1,577 civilian casualties including 379 deaths and 1,198 injured.

Pro-government and anti-government elements have caused an approximately equal number of civilian casualties during ground engagements.

The report details the human cost of continued fighting in civilian- populated areas in particular deaths and injuries from the use of indirect weapons particularly mortars in residential areas.

Although, IEDs remained the second leading cause of civilian deaths and injuries, UNAMA documented a 21 percent decrease in civilian casualties caused by the IED.

Suicide and complex attacks carried out by anti-government elements caused 1,022 civilian casualties (183 dead and 839 inured) a 78 percent increase compared to the first six months of 2014, report noted.

Civilian casualties from targeted killing increased by 57 percent causing 699 civilian casualties.

According to the report, anti-government elements are deliberately targeting and killing civilians including judicial authorities, Mullahs, community leaders, civilian government officials and humanitarian workers.

The report said that Taliban claimed responsibility for 107 attacks deliberately targeting civilians or civilian locations.

UNAMA urged the anti-government elements to cease all attacks against civilians and calls on the Taliban to revise their definition of civilians according to the international law. The UN mission also expressed concerns over 60 percent increase in civilian casualties caused by pro-government forces, mostly resulted from ground engagements.

The UNAMA said that the report was shared with all involved parties and asked them to consider protection of civilian casualties seriously during conflict across the country.

Meanwhile, Afghan security official said that Afghan forces exert utmost efforts to prevent civilian casualties.

Ministry of Defense’s spokesperson, General Dawlat Waziri, said that security forces try their best to avoid collateral damage during operations.

He said that even army forces defuse roadside bombs planted by the anti-state elements.

Taliban also showed reaction against the UNAMA report.

The Taliban’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid termed the report contrary to the facts, adding that Afghan and international forces are the main reasons for civilian casualties.

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