U.N.: Civilian deaths hit record high in Afghanistan

By Allen Cone  |  July 17, 2017 at 2:02 PM
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July 17 (UPI) -- Civilian deaths in Afghanistan reached a record high during the first six months this year, the United Nations said Monday.

Between Jan. 1 and June 30, there 1,662 civilians killed -- a 2 percent increase above the previous record over the same time last year, according to the U.N. mid-year report. Also, 3,581 people were injured this year, a 1 percent decline from 2016.

"The human cost of this terrible conflict in Afghanistan -- loss of life, destruction and immense suffering - is far too high," Tadamichi Yamamoto, the secretary-general's special representative for Afghanistan, said in a statement Monday. "The continued use of indiscriminate, disproportionate and illegal improvised explosive devices is particularly appalling and must immediately stop."

On May 31, a truck bomb killed 92 civilians and injured 491 in Kabul -- the deadliest incident documented by U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan since 2001.

Among women, 174 were confirmed killed and another 462 injured -- an overall rise in casualties of about 23 percent and reversing a decline documented last year.

Child fatalities increased to 436 deaths, a 9 percent increase. Also there were 1,141 injuries among children.

In the release, the United Nations noted pressure-plate improvised explosive devices and aerial operations in civilian-populated areas led to substantial increases in women and child casualties.

The UNAMA report noted 40 percent of all civilian casualties were due to anti-government forces using IEDs.

UN Mission said its figures only include incidents confirmed after a thorough verification process and the actual figures could be higher.

"The statistics in this report, horrifying though they are, can never fully convey the sheer human suffering of the people of Afghanistan," U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in a statement. "Each one of these casualty figures reflects a broken family, unimaginable trauma and suffering, and the brutal violation of people's human rights.

"Many Afghan civilians are suffering psychological trauma, having lost family and friends, and are living in fear knowing the risks they face as they go about their daily lives. Many more have been forced from their homes and suffered lasting damage to their health, education and livelihoods."

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