Kabul, 22 February 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Over 3,400 civilians were killed in the Afghan conflict in 2019, according to UN data released on Saturday, as hopes grow for a political resultion to the country’s decades-long war.
The number of civilian deaths was reported as 3,403 in a report by the United Nations’ Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). A further 6,989 were wounded, marking the sixth year in a row in which civilians casualties have surpassed the 10,000-mark.
However, the figures show a 5-per-cent drop in civilian casualties compared to 2018.
In 2019, the total number of civilian casualties since UNAMA began systematically recording the data in 2009 surpassed 100,000.
“It is absolutely imperative for all parties to seize the moment to stop the fighting, as peace is long overdue; civilian lives must be protected and efforts for peace are under way,” UNAMA chief Tadamichi Yamamoto said.
A seven-day period of reduced violence between the militant Taliban and Afghan government forces and their international allies started at midnight on Friday, marking a potential breakthrough in long-running peace talks between the insurgents and the United States.
The reduction in violence is seen as a test of the Taliban’s control of their ranks and their commitment to peace – and could lead to a more concrete peace deal.
The UNAMA report says the majority of the 2019 casualties – 62 per cent – were caused by anti-government groups, with 47 per cent attributed to the Taliban and 12 per cent to Islamic State.
Pro-government forces were behind the 28 per cent of civilian casualties last year, with 16 per cent attributed to Afghan security forces, and eight percent to international forces.