Afghan civilian casualties hit record numbers - UN

The conflicts in the country left 923 children dead and 2,589 injured in 2016

Afghan civilian casualties hit record numbers - UN

Afghan security forces and and civilians walk around the Shiite Baqir-ul Ulom mosque after a suicide attack inside it, in Kabul, Afghanistan. Picture by Massoud Hossaini AP/Press Association Images

The number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan reached a record high last year, according to new figures released by the UN.

The 2016 numbers reported by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) show 11,418 conflict-related civilian casualties.

A total of 3,498 civilians were killed and 7,920 were injured.

Of those casualty numbers, 3,512 were children - 923 dead and 2,589 injured, marking a 24% increase on the previous recorded figures.

According to the report, anti-government forces - mainly the Taliban - were responsible for 61% of the casualties, and there was a ten-fold increase in the number of casualties caused by Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP).

Pro-government forces were responsible for around a quarter of the casualties (24%).

While ground engagements were the main cause of injuries and deaths (38% of casualties), airstrikes conducted by Afghan and international forces led to 590 civilian casualties - double the number recorded in 2015.

The report also flags the continued danger of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan - 19% of the civilian casualties were caused by such devices. 17% of casualties were a result of 'suicide & complex attacks', while 11% were a result of targeted & deliberate killings.

Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, said: "The killing and maiming of thousands of Afghan civilians is deeply harrowing and largely preventable.

"Unless all parties to the conflict make serious efforts to review and address the consequences of their operations, the levels of civilian casualties, displacement and other types of human suffering are likely to remain at appallingly high levels."

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, added: "Children have been killed, blinded, crippled – or inadvertently caused the death of their friends – while playing with unexploded ordnance that is negligently left behind by parties to the conflict. Women continue to be brutally punished in parallel so-called ‘justice’ processes while religious minorities are targeted as they pray in their mosques."

Image: UNAMA