Afghan Civilian Casualties Soared After Peace Talks’ Start
Kabul, Afghanistan – Civil peace casualties in Afghanistan rose sharply after peace talks between the government and the Taliban began in September, even as overall deaths and injuries fell during 2020 compared to the previous year, The United Nations reported on Tuesday.
In its annual report documenting civilian injuries and deaths, the UN mission in Afghanistan found that the increase in civilian casualties began soon after intra-Afghan Talk Opened on September 12 in Doha, Qatar, the last quarter of 2020 saw a 45 percent increase over the same time period in 2019. Civilian casualties in November were the highest for the month since the United Nations began systematically documenting Afghan casualties in 2009, the report said.
“2020 could have been the year of peace in Afghanistan,” said Deborah Lyons, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan. “Instead, thousands of Afghan civilians died due to the conflict.”
The report was released as talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban came to a halt amid incredible violence, and the February 2020 agreement between the United States and the Taliban is under review by the Biden administration.
After that agreement, a year earlier, civilian casualties for the year were 15 percent lower than in 2019. In 2020, there were 8,820 civilian casualties – 3,035 killed and 5,785 wounded – for the first time since 2013. 10,000, the report said.
This decline was attributed to a decrease by the Taliban of large-scale casualties in large cities and a reduction in the number of US air strikes – both of which contributed to higher civilian casualty rates in previous years.
But the increase in civilian casualties in the fourth quarter as the Taliban and Afghan government forces fought in rural areas. At the same time, a Targeted assassination campaign The firing and bombing killed government employees and members of the security force, journalists, civil society advocates and family members of the fighters.
Also targeted were religious minorities, especially the Thousand, most of whom are Shia Muslims and the country’s small Sikh population.
The number of civilian casualties recorded in the last three months of 2002 (12 891 deaths and 100,000 injuries) represents the second largest total for this time period since 2009.
The Taliban has denied targeted attacks against anyone other than government employees or supporters, but the Afghan government has blamed militants for such attacks.
The report said that for the seventh time in a row last year, the United Nations has killed more than 3,000 civilians, of which one of the deadliest places in the world was a civilian in Afghanistan.
The report said that many Afghans hoped that the violence would subside after the government and Taliban negotiators formalized Talks, Which are aimed at agreeing a road map for a future Afghan government and working towards a broader ceasefire.
The UN report states that instead, violence has increased with disturbing trends and consequences.
After the agreement between the two parties Procedures To guide the conversation in early December, Talks resumed By the first week of January. But there has been no formal conversation since. Instead, heavy fighting ensues, as both sides await the decision by the Biden administration whether to honor or extend May 1 Deadline The withdrawal of the remaining 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan, as set out in the February 2020 agreement between the United States and the Taliban.
The increase in the number of casualties was due to the increase inside the house. Magnetic bomb Attached to vehicles and detonated by timer or remote control. The UN report also documented continued high rates of civilian casualties due to roadside and car bombs exploded by the Taliban and other anti-government elements.
The UN report attributed 62 percent of civilian casualties in 2020 to anti-government elements, with the Taliban accounting for 45 percent of the overall total and the Islamic State in Afghanistan for 8 percent. Another 9 percent was attributed to undefined anti-government elements. Although the Islamic State has weakened, and is mostly contained to the east, it has turned into guerrilla-style and mass casual attacks in urban areas, as it attempts to rebuild its ranks.
Government forces were responsible for 22 percent of the civilian casualties for the year, with the report accounting for an additional 2 percent for pro-government armed groups. The report accounted for 13 percent of civilian casualties for crossfire or undetermined reasons.
US-led international forces accounted for only 1 percent of civilian casualties in 2020, the report said – 120 civilian deaths and injuries, a decrease of 85 percent from 2019, when 786 casualties were attributed to international forces. This was the lowest number in that category after 2009.
Following the February 2020 agreement, the Taliban avoided attacking American or other NATO forces. US commanders have generally limited air strikes in which government forces were highly threatened during Taliban attacks.
But that did not stop American aircraft from dropping hundreds of bombs with little accountability after stopping them from publicly reporting attacks last year.
A year passed in Afghanistan An American Combat Without DeathThe only such period since invading the United States in 2001. The two most recent US war deaths in Afghanistan occurred on February 8, 2020, three weeks before the agreement was signed between the Taliban and the United States.
Thomas Gibbons-Neff contributed reporting.