KABUL, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 25th july,2016) - Civilian casualties in Afghanistan soared to a record high in the first half of 2016, the UN said Monday, with children in particular paying a heavy price for growing insecurity as the conflict escalates. The UN report, which comes days after the deadliest attack in Kabul since the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001, cited increasing ground combat around heavily populated areas as the leading cause of casualties.
Between January and June, 1,601 civilians were killed and 3,565 were wounded -- a four percent increase in casualties compared to the same period last year, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said. The casualties have reached their highest level since the UN began issuing its authoritative reports in 2009. "Every single casualty documented in this report -- people killed while praying, working, studying, fetching water, recovering in hospitals -- every civilian casualty represents a failure of commitment and should be a call to action for parties to the conflict to take meaningful steps to reduce suffering," UNAMA chief Tadamichi Yamamoto said.
"Platitudes not backed by meaningful action ring hollow over time." The casualties include 1,509 children -- roughly one-third of the total -- a figure the UN described as "alarming and shameful". It was the highest toll ever recorded by the UN over a six-month period. The statistics are a grim indicator of growing insecurity in Afghanistan as the Taliban step up their nationwide insurgency and the Islamic State group seeks to expand their foothold in the east of the country. The UN report said insurgent groups including the Taliban were responsible for the majority -- 60 percent -- of civilian casualties. But it also reported a 47 percent increase in the number of casualties caused by pro-government forces, compared to the same period last year.