Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Civilian casualties fall for first time in six years

A total of 2,754 civilians were killed and 4,805 injured in Afghanistan in armed conflict during 2012, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)  These numbers reflect a 12 percent reduction in civilian deaths and a minimal increase in civilians injured compared to 2011, but they also underscore the continuing high human cost of armed conflict in Afghanistan Over the past six years, 14,728 Afghan civilians have lost their lives in the armed conflict.
Anti-Government Elements - most the Taliban - increasingly targeted civilians throughout the country and UNAMA documented 6,131 civilian casualties (2,179 civilian deaths and 3,952 injuries)  in 2012, an increase of nine percent compared to 2011. 81 percent of the total civilian casualties in 2012 were attributed to Anti-Government Elements.

UNAMA recorded a 108 percent increase in civilian casualties from targeted killings and a rise in casualties from the indiscriminate use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), particularly illegal pressure plate IEDs which are victim-activated. 
Eight percent of all civilian casualties (316 deaths and 271 injuries) were attributed to Pro-Government Forces in 2012, a 46 percent decrease from 2011. Civilian casualties from the actions of Afghan National Security Forces in 2012 were consistent with numbers documented 2011 with 96 civilian casualties (33 civilian deaths and 63 injuries), the majority occurring during ground engagements.The remaining 841 civilian casualties (259 deaths and 582 injured) could not be attributed and occurred in crossfire incidents during ground engagements, cross-border shelling or from explosive remnants of war.
One interesting fact contained in the report: the number of weapons released by drones jumped from 294 in 2011 to 506 in 2012 - a 72 percent increase in Afghanistan.
UNAMA documented five incidents of drone strikes which resulted in 16 civilian deaths and three injuries, an increase from 2011 when UNAMA documented one incident involving civilians. There are no figures for the number of combatants killed by drones.
Most of the civilian casualties from drone strikes in 2012 appear to be the result of weapons aimed directly at insurgents. However, some may have been due to targeting errors. For example, UNAMA documented one incident that occurred on 20 October 2012 when a drone struck in Baraki Barak district, Logar province, killing four children, aged between 11 and 13 years. Three boys died immediately while the fourth died during the transport to a Kabul hospital.

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