KABUL (Pajhwok): The number of civilians killed and injured during the first three months of 2021 significantly spiked compared with the same period last year, the United Nations said on Wednesday.
In a report released today, the UN mission said it documented 1,783 civilian casualties (573 killed and 1,210 injured) in the first quarter, of 2021.
The casualty figures represented a 29 percent increase, compared with the same period in 2020, the UNAMA report added.
Of particular concern is the 37 percent increase in the number of women killed and injured, and a 23 percent increase in child casualties compared with the first quarter of 2020.
“The number of Afghan civilians killed and maimed, especially women and children, is deeply disturbing,” commented the UN’s .top diplomat in the country.
“I implore the parties to urgently find a way to stop this violence,” said Deborah Lyons, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan.
The commencement of Afghan peace negotiations in September 2020 raised hopes for an improvement in the situation for civilians. However, in the six months between October 2020 and March 2021, UNAMA recorded a 38 per cent spike in civilian casualties.
In February 2020, Afghan government forces and the Taliban agreed to a week-long reduction in violence that significantly cut harm to Afghan civilians.
But no additional reductions in violence were agreed between the two sides since the start of the intra-Afghan peace dialogue.
“Every possible opportunity for peace must be seized. If levels of violence are not immediately reduced, thousands of civilians will continue to be killed and injured by fellow Afghans in 2021,” warned Lyons, who is also head of UNAMA.
The overall uptick in civilian casualties in the first quarter of 2021 was mainly driven by ground engagements; improvised explosive devices; and targeted killings.
The UN blamed the insurgents for the majority (61 percent) of all civilian casualties. Pro-government forces caused approximately one quarter (27 percent) of the total civilian casualties.