United Nations concerned by continuing high number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan

26 Sep 2019

United Nations concerned by continuing high number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan

KABUL - The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) voices its continuing deep concerns about the high number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan and reiterates that all parties to the conflict must do their utmost to protect civilians from harm.

“The disregard for civilian life exhibited by parties to the conflict in recent days, especially in indiscriminate attacks, is appalling,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan. “Civilians in Afghanistan must be protected.”

On 17 September, the Taliban claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in Parwan at the site of an election rally. Thirty civilians were killed in the attack and 51 were injured.

On 19 September, 25 civilians were killed and 93 injured in a Taliban-claimed attack in Zabul. The disproportionate and indiscriminate truck bomb caused extensive damage to a nearby hospital with terrible harm to health workers and patients inside.

Multiple credible reports indicate high numbers of civilians were killed and injured when the United States military carried out airstrikes on 19 September in Nangarhar and on 22 September in Helmand.

In Nangahar, UNAMA’s preliminary findings indicate that the airstrikes killed at least 16 civilians and injured 12 others. In Helmand, United States and Afghan forces conducted a ground operation, supported by US airstrikes, with preliminary findings indicating that at least 20 civilians were killed and injured, mainly women and children.

The United Nations urges parties to the conflict to take all feasible precautions to avoid harm to civilians. The United Nations condemns any and all indiscriminate attacks and maintains that those responsible for any civilian casualties must ensure independent, impartial, transparent and effective investigations into the incidents.

“Dialogue leading to peace is the only viable way forward for Afghanistan,” said Yamamoto, who is also head of UNAMA. “As the conflict in Afghanistan continues, all parties must strictly adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law.”

The United Nations expresses its condolences to the families of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery to the injured.