WASHINGTON — The number of civilians killed in Afghanistan as a result of the war set a record during 2018, the United Nations reported Sunday.
There was also a rise in civilians injured from the fighting, the new data shows.
“The report’s rigorously researched findings show that the level of harm and suffering inflicted on civilians in Afghanistan is deeply disturbing and wholly unacceptable,” Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, said Sunday in the news release. “All parties need to take immediate and additional concrete steps to stop a further escalation in the number of civilians harmed and lives destroyed.”
The U.N. data shows 3,804 civilians killed from the war during 2018, including 927 children. That is an 11 percent increase from 2017, the U.N. said.
Another 7,189 people were injured in 2018, 5 percent higher than in 2017, the data shows.
U.S. and Taliban representatives have been meeting to seek a possible negotiated settlement to the war. U.S. forces have been in engaged in fighting in Afghanistan since October 2001.
The United Nations said its data shows that 63 percent of the civilian casualties were caused by “anti-government elements” (AGE) — with the Taliban blamed for 37 percent and local ISIS forces 20 percent.
Pro-Government Forces caused 24 percent of civilian casualties –14 percent by Afghan national security forces, six percent by international military forces, as well as four percent by other pro-Government armed groups and forces, the data shows.
“Key factors contributing to the significant increase in civilian casualties were a spike in suicide attacks by AGEs, mainly (ISIS), as well as increased harm to civilians from aerial and search operations by Pro-Government Forces,” the report said. “2018 witnessed the highest number of civilian casualties ever recorded from suicide attacks and aerial operations.”
This is the UN’s tenth annual report documenting harm to civilians in the Afghan conflict, It estimates that more than 32,000 civilians killed and around 60,000 injured in that decade.
“The fact that the number of children killed this year is the highest on record is particularly shocking,” Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in the release.
“In addition to the lives lost, the dire security situation is preventing many Afghans from enjoying their economic, social and cultural rights, with thousands of children already handicapped for life because of attacks on schools and medical facilities.”