CIVILIAN LOSSES IN AFGHANISTAN REACH RECORD LEVELS – UN REPORT
KABUL – Figures released today by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) showing a record number of civilian casualties in the third quarter of 2019 indicate the urgent need for all parties to the conflict to more to protect civilians.
Overall, in the first nine months of 2019, UNAMA documented 8,239 civilian casualties (2,563 killed and 5,676 injured) – high levels of similar damage suffered by the Afghan civilian population during corresponding periods of nine months from 2014 to present. And over the past quarter, UNAMA has documented an unprecedented number of civilian casualties.
Verified civilian casualties from July 1 to September 30 increased by 42% compared to the same period in 2018. Additionally, in July, UNAMA documented the highest number of civilian casualties ever recorded in a single month since the United Nations have begun their systematic documentation. civilian casualties in Afghanistan in 2009.
After the total number of civilian casualties declined in the first six months of this year, largely due to a decrease in civilian casualties caused by anti-government elements, the sharp increase in the last quarter is mainly due to civilian casualties caused by anti-government elements. There is also the increase from January 1 to September 30 in civilian casualties caused by air and search operations carried out by pro-government forces.
“Civilian casualties at record levels clearly demonstrate the need for all parties involved to pay much more attention to the protection of the civilian population, including through a review of conduct during combat operations,” Tadamichi said. Yamamoto, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan. .
“The harm caused to civilians by the fighting in Afghanistan shows the importance of peace talks leading to a ceasefire and a permanent political settlement of the conflict; there is no other way forward,” said Yamamoto, who also heads UNAMA. “The civilian casualties are totally unacceptable, especially in the context of the widespread recognition that there can be no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.”
During the nine-month reporting period, the combined use of suicidal and non-suicidal IEDs was the leading cause of civilian casualties, accounting for 42% of the overall total. Ground combat was the second leading cause of civilian casualties (29%), followed by air attacks (11%), which caused the majority of civilian deaths during the period.
The report states that from January 1 to September 30, anti-government elements suffered 5,117 civilian casualties (1,207 killed and 3,910 injured), or 62 percent of all civilian casualties during the period. UNAMA found that pro-government forces had suffered 2,348 civilian casualties (1,149 killed and 1,199 injured), an increase of 26% compared to the same period in 2018.
In addition to detailing civilian casualties and their causes, the latest UNAMA report indicates that 41% of all civilian casualties in Afghanistan were women and children. In the first nine months of 2019, UNAMA recorded 923 women (261 killed and 662 injured) and 2,461 children (631 killed and 1,830 injured).
“The impact of the conflict in Afghanistan on civilians is appalling; every number checked is a person, a relative of someone – mother, father, daughter, son,” said UNAMA human rights officer Fiona Frazer. “The United Nations will continue to advocate with all parties to the conflict until Afghanistan reaches the only acceptable number of civilians killed and injured in the conflict: zero.
The United Nations reiterates its call on all parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations to protect civilians from harm and strictly adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law at all times.
The full UNAMA Quarterly Report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict 2019 is available here: http://unama.unmissions.org/protection-of-civilians-reports.
UNAMA Verification Method and Standard of Evidence
For the purposes of its protection of civilians reporting, UNAMA includes only verified civilian casualties. Civilian casualties are recorded as ‘verified’ when, based on the totality of the information it has reviewed, UNAMA has determined that there is ‘clear and convincing’ evidence that civilians have been killed or injured. In order to meet this standard, UNAMA requires at least three different types of independent sources, namely the victim, the witness, the doctor, local authorities, confirmation by a party to the conflict, a community leader or other sources. Wherever possible, information is obtained from the primary accounts of victims and/or witnesses to the incident and through on-site investigations.
These forms of investigation are not always possible, mainly due to security constraints affecting access. In such cases, UNAMA relies on a range of techniques to obtain information through trusted networks using as wide a range of sources and information as possible, all of which are assessed for credibility and reliability. These techniques include reviewing digital evidence collected at the scene of incidents, such as still and video images as well as audio recordings; visits to hospitals and medical institutions; reports from the United Nations Department of Safety and Security and other United Nations entities; accounts from secondary sources; information collected by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other third parties; and the parties to the conflict themselves. UNAMA proactively consults with sources of different genders, as well as people from racial, religious and ethnic minority groups and marginalized sectors of society, to ensure a variety of opinions and reduce the risk of bias. taken particular.
If UNAMA is not satisfied with the quantity or quality of civilian casualty information, it will not consider it verified. UNAMA reports do not include unverified incidents. UNAMA shares incident information with parties to conflict to ensure the accuracy of its reporting, to help parties take preventive and mitigating measures, and to promote accountability, including by compensating victims.