Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & The Associated Press & Alastair Jamieson / NBC News – 2017-02-07 00:53:45
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
November 3, 2016) — Afghans in the northern city of Kunduz displayed bodies of people they said were killed by an air strike. Many were children. The U.S.-led coalition said it had conducted strikes there to “defend friendly forces.”
Over 900 Children Killed in Afghanistan in 2016
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(February 6, 2017) — 15 years into the US-led occupation, the civilian death toll in Afghanistan continues to get worse, with the most recent UN Assistance Mission annual report showing 923 children, a record for the war, were killed in the last year, a 25% increase over the already large numbers in 2015.
Civilians have been getting killed at a staggering rate for years, ever-worsening figures driven by constant fighting in and around populated area, and what rights groups have repeatedly described as a lack of effort to avoid letting civilians get swept up in their endless war.
UN officials are blaming this most recent surge in civilian deaths on two things, an increase in foreign (read: US) airstrikes and an ever-growing array of mines, explosives, and general munitions scattered around the country by decades of war.
While a lot of the emphasis among Western officials was on the mines, and improvised explosives planted by rebels, the airstrikes have really been driving the death toll more significantly, with the number of civilians slain in airstrikes the highest since they started keeping track, and double that of the previous year.
More than 900 Children Killed in Afghanistan
In 2016, According to United Nations
The Associated Press
KABUL, Afghanistan (February 6, 2017) — More than 900 children were killed in Afghanistan’s conflict last year, the United Nations said Monday, calling it the most violent year for children since it started keeping records.
The UN mission said the nearly 25 percent increase in child deaths from the previous year was largely caused by mines and munitions left over from decades of conflict. It documented a 66 percent increase in such deaths in 2016.
“Conflict-related violence exacted a heavy toll on Afghanistan in 2016, with an overall deterioration in civilian protection and the highest-total civilian casualties recorded since 2009, when UNAMA began systematic documentation of civilian casualties,” the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said in its annual report.
It said 3,498 people were killed in 2016, including 923 children, and that another 7,920 people were wounded. The overall casualty toll was slightly higher than the previous year.
“I am deeply saddened to report, for yet another year, another increase in civilian casualties, another all-time high figure,” Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN envoy to Afghanistan, told a press conference.
The aid group Save the Children said the latest figures were “extremely concerning,” and called on all parties to do more to protect civilians.
The Taliban, who have been waging an insurgency against the U.S.-backed government in Kabul for more than 15 years, advanced on a number of fronts in 2016. Afghan forces have struggled to combat the militants since the U.S. and NATO formally concluded their combat mission at the end of 2014.
“The humanitarian situation across much of Afghanistan has deteriorated significantly in the past 12 months,” Save the Children’s country director, Ana Locsin, said in a statement.
“With the start of the traditional fighting season not far away with the end of winter, it could get even worse in the coming months,” she said.
UN Sees Record Spike in Civilian Children Killed in Afghanistan
Alastair Jamieson / NBC News
(February 6 2017) — The number of civilians killed in Afghanistan rose to record-setting levels in 2016 — including a 25 percent surge in child victims — the United Nations said Monday.
An increase in attacks perpetrated by ISIS-affiliated groups and a near-doubling in the number of Afghans killed by airstrikes were blamed for the rise.
“The killing and maiming of thousands of Afghan civilians is deeply harrowing and largely preventable,” Tadamichi Yamamoto, the United Nations’ Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan told a news conference unveiling the figures [PDF link here].
In addition to the years-long Taliban insurgency, Afghanistan now faces regular attacks tied to ISIS militants and the danger posed by unexploded ordnance.
A total of 3,498 civilians were killed and 7,920 were wounded in conflicts there in 2016 — a combined increase of three percent over the previous year — UN investigators said.
The casualties included 923 dead children, a 25 percent rise on the previous highest-recorded figure.
Airstrikes, including some carried out by U.S. warplanes, accounted for 250 deaths and 340 injuries — double the 2015 figure and the highest since 2009.
Anti-government forces, mainly the Taliban, were responsible for almost two-thirds of the overalls deaths while pro-government forces were responsible for almost one quarter, the UN said.
According to The Associated Press, U.S. officials have only acknowledged possible civilian casualties in one incident in Kunduz province in November, when the UN said as many as 32 noncombatants were killed in a joint U.S.-Afghan raid. Yamamoto condemned what he called “yet another record year of civilian suffering.”
“Unless all parties to the conflict make serious efforts to review and address the consequences of their operations, the levels of civilian casualties, displacement and other types of human suffering are likely to remain at appallingly high levels,” he said.
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