U.N.: Afghan civilian casualties decrease

Feb. 19, 2013 at 7:50 AM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- The number of civilian casualties in the Afghan war fell in 2012 for the first time since 2007, a U.N. report indicated.

"Afghanistan Annual Report 2012: Protection Of Civilians In Armed Conflict," released Tuesday in Kabul, said there was a 12 percent decrease in civilian deaths in 2012 over the previous year.

However, the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan report recorded a 700 percent increase in casualties of government employees and 108 percent increase in the number of targeted killings by insurgents.

In 2012, UNAMA recorded 7,559 civilian casualties -- 2,754 deaths and 4,805 injuries. Eighty-one percent of civilian casualties were attributed to militants, 8 percent to pro-government forces and 11 percent couldn't be attributed to any party.

UNAMA documented 7,837 civilian casualties -- 3,131 killed and 4,706 injured -- in 2011. The civilian casualties of 7,559 in 2012 represents a 4 percent decrease in total civilian casualties compared to 2011.

The report listed four factors that contributed to the reduction in civilian casualties: fewer deaths and injuries of civilians from ground engagement among parties to the conflict; a decline in suicide attacks; fewer aerial operations; and measures taken by pro-government forces to minimize harm to civilians.

The annual report, prepared by UNAMA in coordination with the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, also documented a 20 percent increase in the number of Afghan women and girls killed and injured in the conflict.

"It is the tragic reality that most Afghan women and girls were killed or injured while engaging in their everyday activities," said Georgette Gagnon, UNAMA's director of human rights.

Indiscriminate and unlawful use of improvised explosive devices by insurgents remains the single biggest killer of Afghan civilians, the report said, adding that civilian casualties from improvised explosive devices increased 3 percent in 2012.

Speaking at the launch of the report in Kabul, U.N. Special Representative Jan Kubis warned that the use of pressure-plate IEDs by insurgents could amount to a "war crime ... and people will be held responsible in the future for this war crime."

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