UN reports rise in women, children casualties in Afghan war

Published August 5, 2015
An elderly Afghan man sits as a burqa-clad woman carries a bag on her head in the morning in Kabul on August 5, 2015.Civilian casualties in Afghanistan touched a record high in the first half of 2015, according to UN figures released on August 5, revealing a fragile security situation six months after the NATO combat mission ended. AFP PHOTO
An elderly Afghan man sits as a burqa-clad woman carries a bag on her head in the morning in Kabul on August 5, 2015.Civilian casualties in Afghanistan touched a record high in the first half of 2015, according to UN figures released on August 5, revealing a fragile security situation six months after the NATO combat mission ended. AFP PHOTO

KABUL: The United Nations said on Wednesday that an increasing number of women and children were getting hurt or killed in Afghanistan's war against the Taliban and other insurgents.

Total number of casualties in the almost 14-year conflict was up one per cent in the first half of this year, compared to the same period last year, a new UN report said.

The number of women casualties rose by 23 per cent and children 13 per cent.

Bell, director of the Human Rights Unit at the UN's Assistant Mission in Afghanistan, said the alarming rise in casualties among women and children was due to ground fighting.

UNAMA attributed 70 per cent of civilian casualties to insurgent forces.

UN was not able to verify whether the Taliban were using civilians as human shields, but that a large number of casualties caused by pro-government troops stemmed from exchange of fire in residential areas.

Security forces have been fighting the Taliban alone since the withdrawal of US and international combat troops last year.

The Taliban have sought to take advantage by escalating their attacks, spreading their footprint from the south and east to the north, and joining forces with other insurgent groups.

Officials have said other insurgent groups, as well as the Islamic State group - which controls about one-third of Syria and Iraq and has a small but growing presence in Afghanistan - have joined the anti-government war.

UNAMA report said 4,921 civilian deaths and injuries were recorded in the first half of this year. Vast majority, or 90 per cent, of all civilians casualties resulted from ground engagements, improvised explosive devices, complex and suicide attacks and targeted killings,” it said.

Pakistan's efforts to broker peace talks

As part of the commitment to facilitate an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process, a meeting was hosted by Pakistan between the Afghan Government and Afghan Taliban representatives.

The meeting was held in Murree on 7 July 2015. The representatives of China and the USA also participated in the meeting.

The participants were duly mandated by their respective leadership and expressed their collective desire to bring peace to Afghanistan and the region.

Also read: Mullah Omar did not die in Pakistan, say Afghan Taliban

The second round of the talks, which was scheduled to be held in Pakistan on 31 July 2015 was postponed In view of the reports regarding the death of Mulla Omar and the leadership crisis among Taliban.

New Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor called for unity in the movement in his first audio message released August 1.

Mansoor gave mixed signals about the peace process while vowing to continue jihad to implement Shariah and Islamic system.

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