News / Asia

UN: Afghanistan Civilian Casualties Hit Record High

An Afghan wounded man, right, lies on the bed in a hospital as his relative sits on a chair beside him in the city of Kandahar, south of Kabul, Afghanistan, July 9, 2014.
An Afghan wounded man, right, lies on the bed in a hospital as his relative sits on a chair beside him in the city of Kandahar, south of Kabul, Afghanistan, July 9, 2014.
Lisa Schlein

A new United Nations report finds a record number of civilians have been killed and injured in Afghanistan in the first half of this year.  

The report blames most of the 24 percent increase in civilian casualties on the Taliban.

It attributes the worsening situation for civilians to the changing nature of conflict in Afghanistan, saying ground combat among the warring parties has now surpassed improvised explosive devices as the leading cause of conflict-related death and injury to Afghan civilians.  
The report finds ground engagements and crossfire are hitting children and women with unprecedented force. 
"During the first half of 2014, over 1,000 kids were either injured or killed in Afghanistan, which is a 30 percent increase compared to last year," said Cecile Pouilly, spokeswoman for the U.N. Human Rights Office. "And similarly, you have many more women being injured.  Sixty-four of them were injured during the first six months of 2014 because this ground engagement is really taking place in public places, sometimes at the very home of ordinary people." 
Civilian deaths and injuries caused by mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire in ground engagements have jumped dramatically, according to the report. In the first six months of the year, the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan documents 4,853 civilian casualties, including 1,564 civilian deaths.

It says ground engagements have caused two of every five civilian casualties in 2014, accounting for 39 percent of all civilian casualties.  
Improvised explosive devices used by anti-government elements as the second leading cause of civilian casualties this year, with suicide and complex attacks by these groups as the third leading cause of deaths and injuries. The report attributes three quarters of all civilian casualties to the anti-government forces.

Pouilly notes the Taliban has publicly claimed responsibility for 76 attacks on military targets, as well as 69 attacks that deliberately targeted civilians.

She says the victims include tribal elders, civilian government employees and civilians simply sitting in restaurants and other public places.
"They may amount to war crimes, indeed," Pouilly said. "You know, attacks which fail to distinguish between military and civilian objective, and attacks that deliberately attack civilians are indeed serious violations of international humanitarian law."  
The U.N. mission began monitoring civilian casualties in 2009.  Compared with the first six months of 2009, the number of civilians killed by anti-government elements this year has doubled, according to the international organization. On the other hand, the UN says the number of civilians killed by pro-government forces has been cult in half between 2009 and 2014.  
It attributes 9 percent of all civilian casualties this year to pro-government forces, 8 percent to Afghan national security forces and 1 percent to international forces.

You May Like

800-Pound Man Determined to Slim Down

Man says he was kicked out of hospital for ordering pizza; wants to be an actor More

Australia Prepares to Resettle 12,000 Syrian Refugees

Preference will be given to refugees from persecuted minorities, and the first group is expected to arrive before late December More

S. African Miners Seek Class Action Suit Against Gold Mines

The estimated 100,000 say say they contracted the lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis in the mines More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs