United Nations documents record spike in child casualties

United Nations documents record spike in child casualties”

The United Nations recorded an alarming 24 percent spike in conflict-related child casualties in Afghanistan and a three percent rise in total civilian casualties in 2016 compared to the year before.

Following the pattern of previous years, 2016 set a record: UNAMA documented 11,418 civilian casualties (3,498 deaths and 7,920 injured) between January and December 2016, an overall increase of 3 percent.

Protection of Civilians in Armed Comment, shows the number of casualties in 2015 went up by 3 percent in 2016.

UNAMA recorded 3,512 casualties among children, with 923 deaths and 2,589 wounded - a 24-per cent increase from 2015, and the highest number of child casualties recorded by UNAMA in a single year.

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Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan, said: "The killing and maiming of thousands of Afghan civilians is deeply harrowing and largely preventable".

In order to prevent the exacerbation of an already dire humanitarian crisis, the UNAMA has called upon all parties in the conflict to note the consequences of their violent actions.

Since 2009, when the United Nations started tracking the numbers of deceased and maimed, the Afghanistan conflict has resulted in the deaths of 24,841 and injuries of 45,347.

The remaining 1,099 civilian casualties (286 deaths and 813 injured) documented by the mission was attributed to unidentified anti-government elements where there was no public claim of responsibility. Afghan security forces and air raids by global warplanes were responsible for the other 39 percent.

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Yamamoto, who is also head of UNAMA, condemned the unrelenting and devastating impact of ground engagements on civilians, as well as of the increasing number of large-scale suicide attacks that intentionally targeted civilians. "Children have been killed, blinded, crippled - or inadvertently caused the death of their friends - while playing with unexploded ordnance that is negligently left behind by parties to the conflict. Women continue to be brutally punished in parallel so-called "justice" processes while religious minorities are targeted as they pray in their mosques".

The UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, said the emergence of Islamic State in Afghanistan was an "additional, deadly component" to almost four decades of conflict.

Among the deadliest tactic used by government forces was the indiscriminate use of heavy weapons like mortars in populated areas, the United Nations said.

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