Oct. 17 (UPI) -- The United Nations stressed Thursday the need to do more to protect civilians in Afghanistan as new figures show a record-high number of civilian casualties in recent months.
From July 1 to Sept. 30, there were 4,313 civilian casualties, the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan reported in its third quarter figures, marking the highest number of civilian casualties in a single quarter that UNAMA has recorded since it began systematically documenting such figures in 2009.
These civilian casualties included 1,174 deaths and 3,139 injured.
"Civilian casualties at record-high levels clearly show the need for all parties concerned to pay much more attention to protecting the civilian population, including through a review of conduct during combat operations," Tadamichi Yamamoto, the secretary general's special representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, said in a statement Thursday. "The harm caused to civilians by the fighting in Afghanistan signals the importance of peace talks leading to a cease-fire and a permanent political settlement to the conflict; there is no other way forward."
More than half of civilian casualties so far this year have been in the third quarter with 8,239 casualties documented in the first nine months of the year, including 2,563 people killed and 5,676 injured.
Civilian casualties increased by 42 percent in the third quarter this year over the same period last year.
"The third quarter of 2019 proved to be particularly turbulent, with civilians gravely affected by the escalation of violence," the third quarter report said. "As talks between the United States and the Taliban progressed in Doha throughout July and August, violence causing casualties soared."
In the first nine months of this year, 41 percent of all civilian casualties were women and children.
"The combined use of suicide and non-suicide IEDS (improvised explosive devices) was the leading cause of civilian casualties, making up 42 percent of the overall total," during the nine-month period, the UNAMA statement said.
The UNAMA report added that "anti-government elements" caused the majority of civilian casualties and "slightly more civilian deaths" over the nine months "than pro-government forces."