Wednesday, 27 February 2013
AFGHANISTAN CIVILIAN CASUALTIES DOWN
For the first time in 6 years, casualty figures in Afghanistan have declined. According to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), there has been a 12% decrease in civilian casualties with a slight increase in injuries.
This is due to a harsh winter which saw fewer suicide bomb attacks, fighting on the ground and air operations. However, this is rather misleading and does not mean that threats against Afghan men, women and children have diminished. Civilians continue to face threats, intimidation and interference from armed militant groups.
Jan Kubis, the UN special representative in Afghanistan, claimed that seeing the recent decrease in casualty numbers granted temporary relief but the “human cost of the conflict remains unacceptable.” He further added that it is mainly women and children who continue to suffer the most from the effects of armed conflict while engaging in everyday activities with an increase of 20% in those killed and injured.
In 2012, 81% of civilian casualties were a result of improvised explosive devices laid by insurgents and 8% from operations by pro-government forces. The report also states that targeted killings by militants increased by 108%.
Although the number of Afghans killed by NATO-led forces dropped by 40%, a recent UN report stated that hundreds of Afghan children have been killed by US air strikes over the last 4 years. The numbers especially doubled between 2010-2011 due to the “lack of precautionary measures and use of indiscriminate force.” This led President Hamid Karzai to ban the Afghan military from requesting aerial support from NATO-led forces.
The recent figures generated mixed feelings among the Afghans who were more concerned about security with some even claiming that the UN was biased in its research. For now, it seems that the Taliban have shifted their focus to targeting foreign troops.
To date 14, 728 Afghans have lost their lives.