Afghan civilian casualties rise by 31 percent: UN

08:01, August 11, 2010      

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Civilian casualties in Afghanistan continued to climb in the first half of 2010 by over a third, compared with the same period last year due to the rising insurgent attacks, said a UN report released on Tuesday.

The UN Mission in Afghanistan reported the number of civilians killed or wounded increased by 31 percent.

The total number of civilian casualties in the first six months of this year, according to the human rights section of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), is 3,268, including 1, 271 deaths and 1,997 injuries.

"The human cost of this conflict is unfortunately rising," said Staffan de Mistura, head of UNAMA.

Three quarters of the casualties were caused by "antigovernment elements," the report said. This is an increase of 53 percent over the same period last year, from Jan. 1 to June 30, in 2009.

The number of children killed or injured rose by 55 percent, making them the hardest hit victims, the report said.

The increased harm to Afghan civilians in the first half of 2010 comes as a result of the use of more, larger and more sophisticated explosive devices used by antigovernment elements, and an increase of the amount of assassinations of civilians without eschewing public executions of children.

"This intensified pattern of assassinations and executions reinforced the widespread perception of Afghan civilians that they are becoming more and more the primary target in this period of conflict," de Mistura said.

The report recommended the Taliban to withdraw all orders and statements calling for the killing of civilians, as well as end the use of roadside bombs and suicide attacks.

"The devastating human impact of these events underscores that, nine years into the conflict, measures to protect Afghan civilians effectively and to minimize the impact of the conflict on basic human rights are more urgent than ever," said Georgette Gagnon, human rights director of the UN mission in Afghanistan.

The report also called on international military forces to make their investigation and reporting on civilian casualties more transparent, as well as maintain and strengthen directives restricting aerial attacks and the use of night raids.

Source: Xinhua


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