‘Rise’ in women, chil­dren ca­su­al­ties in Afghan war

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY LYNNE O’DON­NELL

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.

The to­tal num­ber of ca­su­al­ties in the al­most 14-year con­flict was up one per­cent in the first half of this year, com­pared to the same pe­riod last year, a new U.N. re­port said. How­ever, the num­ber of women ca­su­al­ties rose by 23 per­cent and chil­dren 13 per­cent.

Danielle Bell, di­rec­tor of the Hu­man Rights Unit at the U.N.’s As­sis­tance Mis­sion in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said the alarm­ing rise in ca­su­al­ties among women and chil­dren was due to ground fight­ing. UNAMA at­trib­uted 70 per­cent of civil­ian ca­su­al­ties to in­sur­gent forces.

She said the U.N. 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.

Afghanistan’s se­cu­rity forces have been fight­ing the Tal­iban alone since the with­drawal of U.S. and in­ter­na­tional com­bat troops last year. The Tal­iban have sought to take ad­van­tage by es­ca­lat­ing their at­tacks, spread­ing their foot- print from the south and east to the north, and join­ing forces with other in­sur­gent groups.

Afghan 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.

The UNAMA re­port said 4,921 civil­ian deaths and in­juries were recorded in the first half of this year.

“The vast ma­jor­ity, or 90 per­cent, of all civil­ians ca­su­al­ties re­sulted from ground en­gage­ments, im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vices, com­plex and sui­cide at­tacks and tar­geted killings,” it said.

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