May 23, 2019
ISLAMABAD — The United Nations warned Thursday the civilian casualty toll from airstrikes by pro-government forces in Afghanistan continues to rise.
The latest such raids occurred this week in southern Helmand and eastern Kunar provinces, killing at least 14 Afghan civilians, said the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). It noted that five women and seven children were among the victims.
UNAMA in its brief statement reiterated all “parties (to the conflict) must respect international obligations to protect civilians from harm.”
The Afghan conflict has in recent weeks intensified with both Afghan government forces and the Taliban claiming to have inflicted heavy casualties on the other’s forces. The clashes have also killed or injured scores of civilians.
The 17-year war has caused tens of thousands of civilian casualties and the number rises every year, mostly blamed on attacks carried out by Taliban insurgents.
Last month, however, UNAMA released a report saying that in the first three months of 2019, Afghan security forces and their U.S.-led international partners for the first time in a decade had killed more civilians than by the Taliban and other insurgents.
The report documented 1,773 civilian casualties, including 581 deaths, between January 1 and March 31.
While insurgents caused a significant majority of the injuries, actions by pro-government forces were responsible for 305 Afghan civilian deaths, nearly half of them in airstrikes. UNAMA noted that women and children made up half of the civilian casualties from all aerial operations.