Civilian casualties the focus of advocacy meeting in Kunduz

4 Jun 2015

Civilian casualties the focus of advocacy meeting in Kunduz

KUNDUZ - The protection of civilians in armed conflict was the focus of a UN-backed advocacy meeting, held in Kunduz, that brought together key members of the local community.

Organized by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) in cooperation with UNAMA, the meeting discussed new findings on civilian casualties in the north-eastern provinces of Kunduz, Takhar, Badakhshan and Baghlan.

AIHRC Kunduz head, Hayatullah Amiri, briefed about the Commission’s recent report on civilian casualties in Kunduz and called upon the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to strictly observe the principle of caution in conducting military operations.

UNAMA’s human rights team showed that ground engagement was the leading cause (68 per cent) of civilian casualties in the north-east provinces. Over the last five months there were 271 such casualties, including 43 people killed and 228 injured. Other causes of civilian casualties in the region included Improvised Explosive Devices, aerial attacks, targeted killings, abduction, threat, harassment and Unexploded Ordnance.

Members of UNAMA’s human rights team shared recent findings and recommendations on civilian casualties in the north-east region, especially in Kunduz province. Between 1 January and 31 May of this year UNAMA documented 145 incidents affecting civilians which resulted in 396 casualties, leaving 97 people dead and 299 injured.

“Kunduz, with 250 civilian casualties, has the highest number of all three provinces of the north-east region,” said a member of UNAMA’s human rights team.

Kunduz Provincial Council member, Ms. Nafisa Sadeqi, highlighted the importance of community cooperation in reducing civilian casualties, while religious scholar, Mawlawi Abdul Baqi, pointed to the role of religious leaders: “The religious leader can freely preach and work in the [areas of] Government control, but it is a challenge for them in the areas where the AGEs (anti-Government elements) have an active presence.”

Attending the session were members of the Kunduz provincial council, along with representatives from local government, the religious affairs department, security forces, and civil society.

In the first four months of 2015, UNAMA documented a record high number of 2,937 civilian casualties across Afghanistan (974 civilian deaths and 1,963 injured), a 16 per cent increase over the same period in 2014.