UN urges parties to do more to protect civilians from harm during Ramadan
KABUL - The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) remains concerned about the continuing heavy toll on civilians from the conflict taking place during the holy month of Ramadan, and urges parties to do more to prevent harm.
UNAMA condemns anti-government elements for incidents in which civilians have been deliberately targeted.
The Mission is looking into the 24 May attack at a Kabul mosque during Friday prayers. Initial reports indicate civilians were among those killed, with dozens injured when an improvised explosive device detonated near the Imam in the mosque.
The Mission also is looking into the 22 May incident in Ghazni, involving a humvee vehicle full of explosives. Reports indicate there were 17 civilian casualties and among them two girls were killed.
In the first week of Ramadan, the Taliban killed six civilians and injured a further 28 in a premeditated attack against a non-governmental organization in downtown Kabul.
“Deliberate and indiscriminate attacks against civilians can never be justified and amount to war crimes,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan. “An attack in a mosque, especially at a time of prayer during Ramadan, is particularly heinous.”
These deliberate attacks in civilian-populated areas have taken place against a background of widespread reports of a recent intensification of the conflict, as well as multiple credible claims that civilians are paying a heavy price.
The Mission notes that in recent airstrikes against anti-government targets in Helmand and Kunar, as many as 14 civilians were killed. In the 20 and 22 May attacks in the Greshk district of Helmand and the Chawki district of Kunar, those civilians killed included four women and eight children. A further 12 civilians were wounded.
UNAMA urges every party to redouble efforts to prevent civilians being caught up in deadly engagements. It is vital that parties respect their obligations under international law to protect civilians from harm.
UNAMA will continue to conduct its Security Council-mandated impartial monitoring and recording of harm to civilians, making its findings public as part of work to promote accountability and limit the impact of the war on civilians.
UNAMA reiterates its call for the parties to halt the fighting during Ramadan and uphold their obligations to protect civilians from harm. UNAMA extends deep condolences to the families of victims and wishes a speedy recovery to all those affected by recent violence.