Sat, 18 Sep 2021

Kabul [Afghanistan], July 26 (ANI): Civilian casualties in Afghanistan in the first half of 2021 reached record levels with over 1,659 people killed and 3,254 others wounded, according to a UN agency.

The rise is mainly due to a spike in violence in May that corresponded with the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.

In a new report issued on Thursday, the United Nations warned that without a significant de-escalation in violence Afghanistan is on course for 2021 to witness the highest ever number of documented civilian casualties in a single year since the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) records began.

The UNAMA's Afghanistan Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict Midyear Update 2021 documents 5,183 civilian casualties (1,659 killed and 3,254 injured), a 47 per cent increase compared with the same period in 2020, the report noted.

Anti-Government Elements (AGEs) were responsible for 64 per cent of the total civilian casualties: 39 per cent by Taliban, nearly nine per cent by Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISIL-KP), and 16 per cent by undetermined AGEs.

"Of serious concern is the acute rise in the number of civilians killed and injured in the period from 1 May, with almost as many civilian casualties in the May-June period as recorded in the entire preceding four months," the report read.

Much of the battlefield action during the most deadly months of May and June took place outside cities, in areas with comparatively low population levels.

The UN is gravely concerned that if intensive military action is undertaken in urban areas with high population densities, the consequences for Afghan civilians could be catastrophic.

"I implore the Taliban and Afghan leaders to take heed of the conflict's grim and chilling trajectory and its devastating impact on civilians. The report provides a clear warning that unprecedented numbers of Afghan civilians will perish and be maimed this year if the increasing violence is not stemmed," said Deborah Lyons, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan.

The UN envoy, who is also the head of UNAMA called on the Taliban and Afghan leaders to, "Intensify your efforts at the negotiating table, stop the Afghan against Afghan fighting. Protect the Afghan people and give them hope for a better future." (ANI)

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