News / Asia

    UN: Afghan Civilian Casualties Hit New High in 2015

    Afghan security members inspect the site of a suicide car bombing at Surkh Rud district in Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Dec. 7, 2015.
    Afghan security members inspect the site of a suicide car bombing at Surkh Rud district in Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Dec. 7, 2015.
    Ayaz Gul

    The United Nations said Sunday Afghan hostilities left more than 3,500 civilians dead and nearly 7,500 others wounded in 2015, an increase of four percent in civilian casualties from the previous year.

    The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said the number of civilian casualties during 2015 were the highest recorded since it began its systematic documentation of civilian casualties in 2009. 

    UNAMA said increased ground fighting in and around populated areas, along with suicide and other attacks in major cities were the main causes of conflict-related civilian deaths and injuries in 2015. 

    The report, however, documented a 10 percent reduction in civilian casualties from Taliban attacks.

    “Anti-Government Elements continued to cause the most harm – 62 percent of all civilian casualties – despite a 10 percent reduction from 2014 in the total civilian casualties resulting from their attacks,” it said.

    FILE - Afghan security forces inspect the site of a suicide attack near the Russian embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Jan. 20, 2016.
    FILE - Afghan security forces inspect the site of a suicide attack near the Russian embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Jan. 20, 2016.

    Despite the drop in civilian deaths caused by the Taliban in 2015, there were more civilian deaths caused by pro-government security forces during ground fighting and attacks by aircraft, according to the U.N. report.

    “Pro-government forces caused 1,854 civilian casualties. While this accounts for 17 percent of the total, it all represents a 28 percent increase compared to 2014,” said Danielle Bell, UNAMA Director of Human Rights. 

    UNAMA Chief Nicholas Haysom told reporters in Kabul the report has been shared with all parties to the conflict before its publication, including Afghan security forces and the Taliban.

    “Our objective is not simply to shame and blame, but to effect real changes in the practices of the parties to the conflict… because our primary objective is to change what happens on the battlefield,” he said.

    The report also documented a 37 percent increase in women casualties and a 14 percent increase in child casualties.
     
    “In 2015, the conflict caused extreme harm to the civilian population, with particularly appalling consequences for children. Unprecedented numbers of children were needlessly killed and injured last year – one in four casualties in 2015 was a child,” said Bell.

    The statistics and percentages contained in the report don’t really reflect and capture the real horror and the impact of the bombs, the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and the the indirect fire on civilian communities, said Haysom. He again called on all the parties engaged in the Afghan conflict to uphold their public commitments and take every step to avoid harm to civilians.

    In this undated photograph released by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Oct. 3, 2015, Afghan MSF medical personnel treat civilians injured following an offensive against Taliban militants by Afghan and coalition forces at the MSF hospital in Kunduz.
    In this undated photograph released by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Oct. 3, 2015, Afghan MSF medical personnel treat civilians injured following an offensive against Taliban militants by Afghan and coalition forces at the MSF hospital in Kunduz.

    Sunday's report cited a deadly U.S. airstrike in October on a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital in northern Afghanistan for largely contributing to the 9-percent rise in civilian causalities caused by international military forces in 2015.

    The air raid in the strategically important city of Kunduz killed 42 staff, patients and family members, and wounded another 43. The provincial capital was at the time briefly overrun by the Taliban. 

    Report urges independent, transparent investigation

    The UNAMA report called for conducting an "independent, impartial, transparent and effective investigation of the attack against the MSF hospital and make the findings public. Ensure accountability for those responsible."

    The Taliban has rejected the UNAMA report, alleging in the past two weeks alone Afghan security forces and their foreign partners have killed hundreds of people in northern Baghran province.

    “Civilian casualties can never be prevented with such injustice rather it only encourages irresponsibility of stooge Kabul administration and their masters in this regard,” the militant group said.

    Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s office in a detailed written response to the report has acknowledged UNAMA’s efforts to highlight civilian suffering in the country but insisted the findings did not present the full picture of casualties the Taliban and their affiliate groups have inflicted on Afghan civilians in 2015.

    It said the government "is concerned that UNAMA’s decision to not attribute such a large number of civilian deaths misrepresents reality and could help the Taliban and other terrorist groups avoid accountability and escape justice.”

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora