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UN: Civilian Casualties on the Rise in Afghanistan


FILE - An Afghan man carries an injured boy to a hospital after two roadside bombs struck the Achin district of Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 28, 2013.

FILE - An Afghan man carries an injured boy to a hospital after two roadside bombs struck the Achin district of Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 28, 2013.

A new United Nations report says the number of civilians dying in fighting in Afghanistan continues to rise. 2013 civilian deaths matched the record highs of 2011.

The U.N. said unrelenting armed conflict in Afghanistan killed almost 3,000 civilians and injured more than 5,500 during 2013.

Women and children increasingly bear the brunt of the violence, most of which is blamed on anti-government insurgents.

United Nations Assistance Mission special representative Jan Kubis said the targeted killings were a crime.

"There are groups that are boasting about killing civilians, are making statements about how good it is that civilians are being targeted and killed. These groups should understand this might border on war crimes," said Kubis.

The U.N. report released Saturday said homemade bombs planted by anti-government forces in places like parks, roads, and on bicycles, were the biggest killers of civilians.

A number of anti-government forces, including the Taliban, are operating in Afghanistan.

More civilians also are getting caught in the crossfire between militants and government forces, as Afghan security units try to gain control of the country.

And the U.N. said civilians were still being killed by international forces. But U.N. Human Rights Director Georgette Gagnon said those numbers paled in comparison.

"Of total civilian casualties, that's the total, we found that only three percent were attributed to international forces, three percent of the total civilian casualties," said Gagnon.

The NATO International Security Assistance Force issued a statement saying it would work with Afghan forces to reduce civilian casualties. More than 14,000 Afghan civilians have died since 2009. Thousands more have been injured.

Kubis said the number of civilian deaths was still rising so far in 2014.

International combat forces are due to leave Afghanistan by the end of this year.
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    Sharon Behn

    Sharon Behn is a foreign correspondent working out of Voice of America’s headquarters in Washington D.C  Her current beat focuses on political, security and humanitarian developments in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Follow Sharon on Twitter and on Facebook.

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