KABUL, Afghanistan – Civilian casualties have risen sharply in Afghanistan after peace negotiations between the government and the Taliban began in September, even as total deaths and injuries decreased during 2020 compared to the previous year, the United Nations said Tuesday.
The United Nations Mission in Afghanistan, in its annual report documenting civilian casualties and deaths, found that the escalation in civilian casualties began shortly after Afghan casualties. Negotiation It opened on September 12 in Doha, Qatar, and increased by 45 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019. The number of civilian casualties in November was the highest in any year in that month since the United Nations began documenting Systematic for Afghanistan. The report said the victims were in 2009.
“The year 2020 could have been the year of peace in Afghanistan,” said Deborah Lyons, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General to Afghanistan. Instead, thousands of Afghan civilians have died in the conflict.
The report was released as talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban are still stalled amid relentless violence, and the February 2020 agreement between the United States and the Taliban is under review by the Biden administration.
After this agreement, reached a year ago, the number of civilian casualties this year was 15 per cent less than it was in 2019. The documented civilian casualties in 2020 represent 8,820 – 3,035 killed and 5,785 injured – the first time since a year. 2013, in which this number fell to less than 10,000.
The decrease is attributed to a decrease in mass Taliban attacks in major cities and a decrease in the number of US air strikes – both of which contributed to the high rates of civilian casualties in previous years.
But civilian casualties rose in the last quarter as fighting intensified in the countryside between the Taliban and Afghan government forces. At the same time, prof Targeted assassinations campaign Among the shootings and bombings, government employees, members of the security forces, journalists, civil society activists, and family members of fighters were killed.
Religious minorities, especially the Hazara, most of whom are Shiite Muslims, and the small Sikh population in the country have also been targeted.
The 2,792 human losses (891 deaths and 1,901 injuries) recorded in the last three months of 2020 represent the second-highest total in this time period since 2009.
The Taliban denied the attacks directed against anyone other than government employees or supporters, but the Afghan government blamed the militants for most of these attacks.
The report said that last year was the seventh consecutive year that the United Nations documented the killing of more than 3000 civilians, “with Afghanistan remaining among the deadliest places in the world for civilians.”
The report indicated that many Afghans had hoped for a reduction in violence after the government and Taliban negotiators formally launched talksWhich aims to agree on a road map for a future Afghan government and work towards a comprehensive ceasefire.
“Instead, there has been an escalation of violence, with worrisome trends and consequences,” the UN report said.
After the two sides agreed on Procedures To guide negotiations in early December, The talks stopped Until the first week of January. But there have been no formal negotiations since then. Instead, there was heavy fighting, with both sides awaiting a decision from the Biden administration on whether to respect or extend Deadline May 1 To withdraw the remaining 2,500 American troops from Afghanistan, as stipulated in the February 2020 agreement between the United States and the Taliban.
Part of the increase in victims of the last quarter is due to an increase in homemade injuries Magnetic bombs Attached to vehicles and detonated by a timer or remote control. The United Nations report also documented the continued high rate of civilian losses resulting from the detonation of car bombs on the side of the road and detonated by the Taliban and other anti-government elements.
The United Nations report attributed 62 percent of civilian casualties in 2020 to anti-government elements, with the Taliban blaming 45 percent of the total, and the Islamic State in Afghanistan responsible for 8 percent. Another 9% was attributed to unspecified anti-government elements. Although the Islamic State has weakened, and is mostly contained in the east, it has turned to guerrilla warfare and mass attacks in urban areas, as it attempts to rebuild its ranks.
Government forces were responsible for 22 percent of civilian casualties this year, according to the report, with an additional 2 percent attributed to pro-government armed groups. The report attributed 13 percent of civilian casualties to crossfire or unspecified reasons.
The report said that US-led international forces were responsible for only 1% of civilian casualties in the year 2020 – 120 dead and civilian casualties, a decrease of 85% from 2019, when 786 casualties were attributed to international forces. It was the lowest number in that category since 2009.
After the February 2020 agreement, the Taliban refrained from attacking US or other NATO forces. US military commanders have generally limited air strikes to cases where government forces have come under severe threat during Taliban attacks.
But that hasn’t stopped U.S. planes from dropping hundreds of bombs with little accountability after the military stopped publicly reporting strikes last year.
A whole year has passed in Afghanistan Without an American fight, death, Which is the only period of its kind since the United States invaded in 2001. The last two American deaths in Afghanistan occurred on February 8, 2020, three weeks before the signing of the agreement between the Taliban and the United States.
Thomas Gibbons Neff contributed to the reporting.