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A distraught man is carried following a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017. Authorities say attackers stormed the Shiite Muslim cultural center in the Afghan capital Kabul, setting off multiple bombs and killing dozens. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

Int’l court receives 1.17m war crimes claims from Afghans

AT Monitoring Desk-KABUL: The International Criminal Court has received a staggering 1.17 million statements from Afghans who say they were victims, since the court started collecting material three months ago for a possible war crimes case involving Afghanistan, The Associated Press reported.

The statements include accounts of alleged atrocities not only by groups like the Taliban and Daesh, but also involving Afghan Security Force members and government-affiliated warlords, the US-led coalition, and foreign and domestic spy agencies, said Abdul Wadood Pedram of the Human Rights and Eradication of Violence Organization, as quoted by the AP.

Based in part on many statements, the International Criminal Court judges in The Hague would then have to decide whether to seek a war crimes investigation. It’s uncertain when that decision will be made.

The statements were collected between Nov. 20, 2017, and Jan. 31, 2018, by organizations based in Afghanistan and Europe and were sent to the ICC, Pedram said, as quoted in the report.

Because one statement might include multiple victims and one organization might represent thousands of victim statements, the number of Afghans seeking justice from the ICC could be several million.

“It is shocking there are so many,” Pedram said, noting that in some instances, whole villages were represented. “It shows how the justice system in Afghanistan is not bringing justice for the victims and their families.”

The AP report says the ICC did not give details about the victims or those providing the information.

The report comes after on Thursday the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in its annual report for 2017 on civilian casualties in Afghanistan, said Afghan civilians continue to bear the brunt of Afghanistan’s ongoing conflict with over 10,000 casualties reported during 2017.

Based on the report, a total of 10,453 civilian casualties – 3,438 people killed and 7,015 wounded – were documented in the 2017 Annual Report released jointly by (UNAMA) and the UN Human Rights Office.

The report notes that ground engagement between anti and pro-government elements during 2017 shows a 19 percent decrease from the record levels in 2016.

The report attributes close to two-thirds of all casualties (65 percent) to anti-government elements: 42 percent to the Taliban, 10 percent to Daesh and 13 percent to undetermined and other anti-government elements.

According to the report women and children remained heavily affected by conflict-related violence.

UNAMA documented that, in 2017, 359 women were killed – a rise of five percent – and 865 injured. Child casualties – 861 killed and 2,318 injured – decreased by 10 percent compared with 2016.

The report shows attacks where anti-government elements deliberately targeted civilians accounted for 27 percent of the total civilian casualties recorded in Afghanistan in 2017 – mainly from suicide and complex attacks directed at civilians or civilian objects.

The deadliest single incident documented since UNAMA began recording civilian casualties in 2009 occurred in Kabul on 31 May last year when a suicide bomber detonated a truck laden with approximately 2,000 kgs of military grade explosives during the morning rush hour in a densely populated area. This massive blast martyred 92 civilians and injured 491.

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