United Nations report: “An alarming rise” in Afghan civilian casualties after the start of peace talks

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In their annual business Annual Report to Protect Civilians in Afghanistan in Armed ConflictUnited Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights)Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights(And UNAMID)UNAMAAbout 8,820 civilian casualties (3,035 deaths and 5,785 injuries) were documented in 2020, about 15% less than in 2019.

It was also the first time that the number had fallen below 10,000 since 2013.

Even so, the country remains among the “deadliest places for civilians in the world”. Depending To Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

She said, “I have been particularly appalled by the large numbers of human rights defenders, journalists and media workers who have been killed since the start of the peace negotiations in September.”

At least 11 rights defenders, journalists and media workers They lost their lives since September, Which has led to many professionals exercising self-censorship in their work, leaving their jobs, and even leaving their homes and country – in the hope that this will improve their safety.

A rise in targeted killings

According to the report, the general decrease in the number of civilian casualties in 2020 is due to the decrease in the number of victims of suicide attacks carried out by anti-government elements in populated areas, as well as the decrease in casualties attributed to international military forces.

However, there was a “disturbing rise” in targeted killings by these elements – an increase of about 45 percent during 2019. The use of IEDs by the Taliban, and air strikes by the Afghan air force, the report stated that The ground clashes also resulted in an increase in casualties.

According to the report, anti-government elements were responsible for about 62 percent of the civilian casualties, while pro-government forces were responsible for about 25 percent of the victims. About 13 percent of the victims were attributed to crossfire and other accidents.

2020 would have been the ‘year of peace’

Deborah Lyons The Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations in Afghanistan The head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan called on all parties to take immediate and concrete measures to protect civilians, and urged them not to “waste one day in taking urgent steps to avoid more suffering.”

2020 could have been the year of peace in Afghanistan. Instead, thousands of Afghan civilians have died because of the conflict, ”Ms. Lyons She said.

She added that the “ultimate goal” of the report is to provide the responsible parties with facts and recommendations, so that they can take immediate and concrete steps to protect civilians.

Ms. Lyons emphasized that “the best way to ultimately protect civilians is to establish a ceasefire for humanitarian reasons” – Prof. a call Constantly by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres And the Security Council.

“Parties that refuse to consider a ceasefire must acknowledge the devastating consequences of such a situation on the lives of Afghan civilians.”

Report of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Female casualties (killed and injured) were documented between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2020

A “terrible toll” on women and children

The report noted that the years-long conflict in Afghanistan “continues to inflict horrific and damaging losses” on women and children, who represent 43 percent of all civilian casualties – 30 percent of children and 13 percent of women.

“This report shows the urgent and enduring needs of victims of armed conflict and shows how much remains to be done to meet those needs in a targeted manner,” said High Commissioner Bachelet.

“The violence that has caused so much pain and suffering to the Afghan people for decades must stop, and steps toward a lasting peace must continue.”

Attacking civilians ‘grave violations’

As the conflict continues, the parties must do more to prevent and mitigate civilian casualties, the report said, urging them to fully implement the report’s recommendations and ensure that respecting and protecting human rights is essential to ongoing peace negotiations.

He also reminded the parties that intentionally attacking civilians or civilian objects is a serious violation of international humanitarian law that may amount to war crimes.

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