Friday, August 07, 2009

Civilian Casualties Continue to Rise in Afghanistan

The United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan released a report last Friday illustrating the continued rise in Afghan civilian casualties in the first half of 2009, and the prospect of further escalation.
"As the conflict intensifies and spreads, it is taking an increasingly heavy toll on civilians, as the growing civilian death toll registered by UNAMA Human Rights each year since 2007 indicates. In the first six months of 2009, UNAMA recorded 1013 civilian deaths, compared with 818 for the same period in 2008, and 684 in 2007 ... ...This represents an increase of 24% of civilian casualties in the first six months of 2009 as compared to the same period in 2008. Both Anti-Government Elements and pro-government forces are responsible for the increase in civilian casualties. UNAMA Human Right figures indicate that more civilians are being killed by AGEs than by PGF. In the first six months of 2009, 59% of civilians were killed by AGEs and 30.5% by PGF. This represents a significant shift from 2007 when PGF were responsible for 41% and AGEs for 46% of civilian deaths...

...Increased AGE activity, including a new “Operation Victory” announced by the Taliban leadership, in response to the troop surge being implemented by the US Administration, and the Presidential and Provincial Council elections scheduled for 20 August, raise the prospect of a further intensification of the conflict in Afghanistan. Given the pattern of the conflict so far, further significant civilian casualties in the coming months are likely...

...UNAMA and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights remind all parties to the conflict of their obligations to protect civilians under international humanitarian law, international human rights law and the national laws of Afghanistan."