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UNAMA reports 47% rise in civilian casualties in Afghanistan in first half of 2021

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan reached record levels in the first half of this year, including a sharp increase in the number of killed and injured in May and June when US and coalition forces began to withdraw from the Central Asian country and the fighting between Kabul and the Taliban intensified, the United Nations said in a 26 July report.

In its ‘Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict' mid-year report, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said it documented 5,183 civilian casualties (1,659 killed and 3,524 injured) between 1 January and 30 June 2021: a 47% increase compared with the same period in 2020.

In this context the UN mission said it was “seriously concerned” about the acute rise in the number of casualties registered in the May–June period, with almost as many civilian casualties documented during these two months as in the entire preceding four months.

In fact, the number of civilian casualties registered in May and June – 2,392 in total (783 killed and 1,609 injured) – was the highest for those months since UNAMA began its systematic documentation in 2009. The January–April period saw 2,791 civilian casualties (876 killed and 1,915 injured).

The UN mission also described as “particularly shocking and of deep concern” the fact that women and children made up close to half (46%) of all civilian casualties in the first half of this year: 32% were children – 1,682 in total (468 killed and 1,214 injured) – while 14% were women – 727 in total (219 killed and 508 injured).

Afghan civilians along with security and emergency personnel inspect the remains of a vehicle at the site of a bomb blast in Kabul on 12 June. UNAMA reported on 26 July that the number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan increased 47% in the first half of 2021 compared with the same period last year. (Zakeria Hashimi /AFP via Getty Images)

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