UN Reports Over 2,000 Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan in the First Quarter of 2018

Diplomats discuss the need for peace in Afghanistan Diplomats discuss the need for peace in Afghanistan UNAMA

16 April 2018

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan reported similar levels of civilian casualties during the same periods of 2017 and 2016.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has published its first Quarterly Report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict of 2018, covering 1 January to 31 March. UNAMA reports 2,258 civilian casualties within this period, comprising 763 deaths and 1,495 injured. Among the leading causes were improvised explosive devices (IED) and complex attacks, ground engagements, targeted and deliberate killings, explosive remnants of war, and aerial operations. The areas most affected were the Kabul, Helmand, Nangarhar, Faryab, and Kandahar provinces.

The report notes several trends and statistics. Casualties from deliberate attacks against civilians carried out by Anti-Government Elements, primarily Taliban and Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), have doubled. These Anti-Government Elements caused 1,500 (67%) of all civilian casualties. Sectarianism continues to fuel violence, with 154 civilian casualties among Afghanistan’s Shi’a population, nearly all claimed by ISKP.

Casualties among both women and children have decreased compared to the first quarter of 2017, but they remain high with 217 women casualties and 583 child casualties. The leading cause of both was ground engagements, although one-third of child casualties resulted from non-suicide IEDs. Children also comprised 89% of civilians killed by explosive remnants of war.

Casualties caused by Pro-Government Forces comprised 18% of all civilian casualties, of which 142 resulted from aerial attacks. The UNAMA report attributed 35% of civilian casualties from airstrikes to international military forces, primarily the United States, the only country with a combat mission in Afghanistan.

Despite noting the high numbers of civilian casualties, the report highlights the actions taken by the Afghan government and the international community to prevent further casualties. The Afghan government has begun implementation of the National Policy on Civilian Casualty Mitigation and Prevention, which it officially endorsed in October 2017. The government’s responsibilities regarding explosive remnants of war, outlined in Protocol V of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, came into effect on 9 February 2018. Pursuant to Protocol V, the Afghan government must identify locations of possible unexploded ordnance for removal or destruction. In response to the report, UNAMA continues to urge all parties to the conflict in Afghanistan to increase efforts to protect civilians from harm.


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By Daniel Heim

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