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UN report shows increase in Afghan civilian casualties

The UN mission renewed its call on parties to the conflict to increase efforts to protect the civilian population.

The number of civilians killed in Afghanistan in the first half of this year has increased by 1% compared to the same period last year, according to a report released by the United Nations.

The UN mission in Afghanistan said the number — 1,692 killed in violence — is the highest six-month death toll since the systematic documentation of civilian casualties started in 2009.

In its report, UNAMA said 3,430 Afghan civilians were wounded in the January-June period. The killed and wounded add up to a total of 5,122 civilian casualties, which is a 3% overall decrease from the first six months of 2017.

The UN mission renewed its call on parties to the conflict to increase efforts to protect the civilian population and work toward reaching a peaceful settlement.

Sunday’s report and others like it reflect the grim reality of Afghanistan today.

Since the US and Nato forces formally concluded their combat mission at the end of 2014, a resurgent Taliban has stepped up its attacks across the country and an Islamic State affiliate has also emerged to launch horrific high-profile attacks that have claimed the lives of scores of civilians.

The UN report also cited a lull in June, when the Taliban accepted a three-day ceasefire over the Eid al-Fitr holiday that caps the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

The insurgents later rejected a subsequent call by President Ashraf Ghani to extend it.

Mr Ghani has repeatedly extended calls to the Taliban for peace talks but they have rejected them outright. Speaking at a press conference in Kabul, he said the Nato summit last week in Brussels fully backed his government’s efforts and peace initiatives.

“The brief cease-fire demonstrated that the fighting can be stopped and that Afghan civilians no longer need to bear the brunt of the war,” the report quoted Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan.

“We urge parties to seize all opportunities to find a peaceful settlement – this is the best way that they can protect all civilians,” added Mr Yamamoto, who is also head of UNAMA.

According to the report, 157 women were among those killed and 387 were wounded in the January-June period, the report said. The mission also recorded a total of 1,355 child casualties, with 363 deaths and 992 children wounded in the first six months of the year.

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