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'Increase in civilian casualties in Afghanistan'

world Updated: Aug 01, 2009 11:42 IST
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Noting that there is no decline in civilian casualties in Afghanistan, a UN report has said there has been a record 24 per cent increase in death of civilians in the country in the first six months of the current year as compared to the previous year, during the same period.

As the conflict in Afghanistan intensifies and spreads, it is taking an increasingly heavy toll on civilians, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a mid-year report on the situation of civilians in armed conflict, UN spokesman Farhan Haq said on Friday.

That report, compiled by UNAMA's Human Rights Unit, recorded 1,013 civilian deaths in the first six months of 2009 -- a 24 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2008.

Between January and June of this year, about 59 per cent of civilian deaths were the responsibility of anti-government elements and 30.5 per cent were the responsibility of pro-government forces.

The report adds that air strikes remain the largest cause of civilian deaths attributed to pro-government forces during the first six months of 2009, resulting in the reported deaths of 200 civilians, he said.

Meanwhile, some 400 casualties were the result of the indiscriminate use of improvised explosive devices and suicide attacks by anti-government elements.

In its report, UNAMA noted that international military forces have tried to minimise the number of civilian casualties resulting from their operations. Nevertheless, "air strikes remain the largest cause of civilian deaths attributed to PGF during the first six months of 2009," with 40 incidents of air strikes since the beginning of 2009 in which 200 civilians reportedly lost their lives, it said.

While acknowledging "a greater openness" by the international military forces, in particular the Security Council-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), with regard to such matters, the mission remained concerned about a number of issues, including the level of transparency of the forces and their capacity or willingness to provide information to UNAMA, the report said.