Civilian deaths in Afghanistan war reach new high in 2014 - UN

UN mission in Afghanistan says it has recorded the highest number of civilian casualties in 2014 throughout the war since 2001

Civilian deaths in Afghanistan war reach new high in 2014 - UN

World Bulletin/News Desk

At least 3,188 Afghan civilians have been killed in the intensifying war with the Taliban in 2014, making it the deadliest year on record for non-combatants, the United Nations said on Friday.

The numbers are a sharp reminder that the Afghan war is far from over, even as a U.S.-led international force formally ends its combat mission at the end of the month, shifting to a supporting role for Afghan forces after 13 years.

"The situation for civilians in Afghanistan is becoming increasingly dire," said Georgette Gagnon, human rights director for the U.N. mission in Kabul.

As of Nov. 30, the United Nations had recorded a total of 3,188 civilian deaths and 6,429 injuries.

That puts 2014 on track to be the first year on record that combined civilian casualties will surpass 10,000.

Civilian deaths over the year to the end of November were up 19 percent over the same period last year and had already surpassed the previous high set in 2011, when 3,133 civilians were killed.

For the first time, ground battles between the Taliban and Afghan forces became the main cause of civilian deaths. In previous years, planted bombs killed the most civilians.

"That is very worrying," said Gagnon, calling on all sides to do more to keep civilians from being caught in crossfire of mortars and other heavy weapons.

About three-quarters of civilian casualties were caused by Taliban insurgents, who are intensifying their fight to re-establish their regime that was toppled in a U.S.-backed military intervention for sheltering the al Qaeda architects of the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on U.S. cities.

Since the U.N. began tracking civilian casualties in 2009, a total of 17,252 civilian deaths and 29,536 injuries have been recorded.

In eyes of Afghan analysts, this was very much anticipated. Nizamudin Katawazi, human rights activist and security analyst told AA that 2014 was deemed to be sort of a decisive year for the Afghan war.

“You see, all eyes were on this year to see if Afghan security forces can defend the country without any direct support from foreign troops,” he said while making a point about increasing militant attacks in the main urban centers.

Katawazi added that it seemed the militants have finally unleashed their ultimate force that they kept reserved for over a decade because of the heavy foreign forces’ presence.

While U.S. military officials have portrayed the war as in the process of being won by Afghan security forces, the national army and police have also suffered record losses this year, with more than 4,600 killed.

Since 2001, nearly 3,500 foreign soldiers from 29 countries have been killed in Afghanistan, including about 2,200 Americans.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Aralık 2014, 15:10