Military Capabilities

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan reach record-high levels, says UN

17 October 2019

Afghan security forces near the crater left behind by a car bomb at the Green Village in Kabul on 3 September 2019. Source: STR/AFP/Getty Images

The number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan has reached record-high levels, with the United Nations recording from 1 July to 30 September 2019 the highest number of dead and wounded civilians in a single quarter since it began systematic documentation of such incidents in 2009.

In its latest quarterly report, which was published on 17 October, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said that it documented 4,313 civilian casualties (1,174 deaths and 3,139 injured) during those three months - a 42% increase compared to the same time period in 2018 - with July seeing the highest number of civilian casualties ever recorded by the UN mission in a single month: 1,589 (425 deaths and 1,164 injured).

The UN pointed out that violence in the Central Asian country soared during the third quarter of 2019, particularly as peace talks between the United States and the Taliban were progressing in Doha throughout July and August. It added that the spike was mainly due to a "significant increase" in suicide and non-suicide attacks by anti-government elements - primarily the Taliban - using improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

"While in the first half year of 2019 UNAMA documented a decrease in civilian casualties in comparison to previous year, in July, August and September extreme levels of violence brought the civilian casualty levels back to the unacceptable high levels of previous years," said UNAMA in the report.

Referring to the first nine months of the year, the UN mission said that it documented 8,239 civilian casualties (2,563 deaths and 5,676 injured): a number similar to that documented in the same period in 2018. A total of 41% of these casualties were women and children, with civilians living in the provinces of Kabul, Nangarhar, Helmand, Ghazni, and Faryab being the most directly impacted by the conflict.

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