Code 49991
PublishDate: Thursday, May 31, 2012 09:22

Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan Falling in 2012

579 civilian deaths and 1,216 civilian injuries had been recorded in the first four months of 2012 representing a 21 percent reduction.

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan dropped significantly in the first four months of 2012, and a smaller proportion of the deaths was attributed to coalition and Afghan forces compared with a year ago, the United Nations director in the country said on Wednesday.

At a news conference, Jan Kubis, the United Nations special representative to Afghanistan, said 579 civilian deaths and 1,216 civilian injuries had been recorded in the first four months of 2012. The combined figures represent a 21 percent reduction from the same period last year.

The United Nations said 9 percent of the casualties were attributed to pro-government forces, which includes both international troops and the Afghan security forces, and 79 percent to antigovernment forces including the Taliban. Twelve percent of the casualties were unattributed. Last year, the international troops and Afghan forces were responsible for 14 percent of the casualties. The percentage caused by the Taliban remained almost unchanged.

“Regrettably, unfortunately the antigovernment forces, they don’t show any improvement in protection for civilians,” Mr. Kubis said. “They issue statements about protecting civilians, but in practice they use such indiscriminate destructive weapons,” he said, referring to the use of land mines, improvised explosive devices and suicide bombers.

The figures released Wednesday represent the first period showing a reduction in civilian casualties since 2007, when the United Nations began tracking the statistics. However, human rights officials were cautious about the sustainability of reduced casualties since it was a particularly harsh winter, especially compared with 2011, which was a relatively mild winter, said James Rodehaver, the acting head of the United Nations’s human rights office here.

“The downturn in the number of armed clashes and the impact of the harsh weather is much more likely to have impact on Taliban operations than on government or ISAF operations,” said Mr. Rodehaver, referring to the International Security Assistance Force.

He noted that in absolute numbers, the casualties were lower for the Taliban and antigovernment forces as well as for international and Afghan forces, but that the Taliban still were responsible for a preponderance of the deaths and injuries.

The midyear report, which is due in July and will reflect the fighting in May and part of June, will give a better sense of the reasons for the reduction and whether it is mostly a reflection of the harsher winter weather and delayed fighting season.

“The seasonal impact is unclear, and that’s why we are carefully looking at the last few months as well as May to get a better impression of what is attributable to greater caution and what is attributable to harsh weather conditions,” he said.(Afghan News Center)


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