UNITED NATIONS: Cross-border incidents attributed to forces in Pakistan caused less than two percent of civilian casualties in Afghanistan from Jan 1 to Dec 31, 2020, says the latest UN report on the war-ravaged country.

The report, prepared by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and released last week, attributed 62 per cent of all civilian casualties to anti-government elements within Afghanistan.

The Taliban rebels were responsible for 45pc of these civilian casualties while pro-government forces caused 25pc of these casualties in 2020. Of these 22pc of civilian casualties were caused by the Afghan National Security Force.

Eight per cent casualties were attributed to ISIL-KP, and 9pc to undetermined anti-government elements. And 1pc each to international military forces, pro-government armed groups, and undetermined or multiple pro-Government Forces, respectively.

Nine per cent of civilian casualties were caused by ground engagements between anti-government elements and pro-government forces that could not be attributed to a specific party.

The remaining 2pc of civilian casualties could not be attributed to any party and consisted mostly of civilian casualties from explosive remnants of war.

Anti-government elements

In 2020, anti-government elements were responsible for 5,459 civilian casualties -- 1,885 killed and 3,574 injured – 15pc fewer civilian casualties than the year prior. The decrease in civilian casualties in comparison to 2019 was mainly due to fewer civilian casualties from suicide attacks.

UNAMA attributed 3,960 civilian casualties — 1,470 killed and 2,490 injured — to the Taliban in 2020. This marked an overall decrease of 19pc from 2019, comprising a 31pc decrease in civilians injured, partially offset by a worrying 13pc increase in civilians killed.

In 2020, Taliban were responsible for an increase of 43pc in the number of civilians killed by non-suicide IEDs, especially though the use of victim-activated pressure-plate IEDs and vehicle borne non-suicide IEDs, compared with 2019. The number of civilian casualties from targeted killings in 2020 attributed to the Taliban increased by 22pc.

Conversely, in 2020, UNAMA attributed 79pc fewer civilian casualties to the Taliban from the use of suicide attacks, including complex attacks. Civilian casualties from ground engagements caused by the Taliban also decreased by 10pc in 2020 in comparison to the year prior, mainly due to the dearth of the 2019 civilian casualties that had been attributed to the Taliban for election-related violence.

For the second year in a row, UNAMA documented a decrease in the number of civilian casualties attributed to ISIL-KP. In 2020, UNAMA attributed 673 civilian casualties — 213 killed and 460 injured — to ISIL-KP, a 45pc decrease in comparison to 2019.

In 2019, UNAMA attributed 391 civilian casualties — 70 killed and 321 injured — from election-related violence to the Taliban.

Of particular concern to UNAMA in 2020 was continued attacks by anti-government elements that deliberately targeted civilians.

Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2021

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