Afghan Civilian Deaths Still Too High: UN
Kabul. The number of civilians killed in the Afghan war is still unacceptably high, despite a 21 percent drop in the first four months of this year, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said Thursday.
UNAMA urged all warring sides to take extra measures to protect civilians as Afghan forces gradually take over responsibility for security from US-led NATO troops, who will leave by the end of 2014.
“To the Afghan people, the credibility and success of transition of security to Afghan forces will be measured by reduced civilian casualties and real improvements in security,” said UN special representative Jan Kubis.
From January 1 to April 30 this year, UNAMA recorded 579 civilian deaths and 1,216 injuries, with 79 percent of all civilian casualties attributed to insurgents and nine percent to pro-government forces.
While this was a 21 percent decrease over the previous year, “civilian casualties continue to occur at unacceptably high levels”, UNAMA said in a statement.
Naming improvised explosive devices (IEDs) used by Taliban-led insurgents as the biggest killers — causing 31 percent of all civilian deaths — the UN demanded that the militants stop using victim-activated pressure plate IEDs.
And it called on NATO to dedicate more resources to ensure effective, centralized management of counter-IED operations and IED disposal throughout the transition period.
For the past five years the civilian death toll rose steadily to reach a record of 3,021 in 2011, and it is not clear yet whether the decrease this year could be linked to the fact that Afghanistan had its harshest winter in 15 years.