The United Nations on Monday reported a record high for civilian casualties in the Afghan war this year, raising particular alarm about the fate of children, who have accounted for nearly one third of the deaths or injuries.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, which has been recording civilian casualties since 2009, reported 1,601 civilian deaths and 3,565 injuries in the first six months of 2016, a 4 percent increase on an already record figure last year. Child casualties also hit the highest number since 2009, with 388 children killed and 1,121 injured so far this year, the report said.
Though the United Nations again noted that the Taliban and other anti-government forces were mostly to blame, the agency’s special representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, said that all parties in the Afghan conflict had failed in their commitment to reduce violence to civilians. And the report explicitly expressed concern over a significant increase in casualties caused by pro-government forces.
“Platitudes not backed by meaningful action ring hollow over time,” Mr. Yamamoto said. “History and the collective memory of the Afghan people will judge leaders of all parties to this conflict by their actual conduct.”
Ana Locsin, the country director of Save the Children in Afghanistan, described the report’s findings as “truly shocking” and “a significant backtrack on progress for Afghan children.”
After the failure of efforts early this year to bring Taliban insurgent leaders to negotiations with the Afghan government, violence has remained nearly constant across multiple provinces of Afghanistan. And in the first six months of 2016, more than 150,000 people were also forced to leave their homes — a 10 percent increase in newly displaced people over the same period last year.
The United Nations report blamed anti-government forces — largely the Taliban and new affiliates of the Islamic State who claimed a deadly bombing in Kabul last week — for 60 percent of the casualties. But casualties caused by pro-government forces, totaling 23 percent of the overall figure, also increased by 47 percent. Most of the casualties were caused by ground engagements, followed by improvised explosive devices.