NEW YORK, 19 December 2014 – The number of civilians killed and injured in Afghanistan this year is the highest ever recorded by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said its head, Nicholas Haysom, at a press conference at UN headquarters in New York today.
Mr. Haysom, who is also the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, highlighted the devastating impact of the conflict on Afghan civilians.
“One of the measurements of the security situation has been civilian casualties,” the special envoy said. “Civilian casualties are a particularly tragic and very prominent part, even benchmark, of the horror of the violence that ordinary Afghans face.”
As of 30 November, UNAMA has recorded more civilian deaths and injuries during 2014 than in any other year since it began its authoritative reports in 2009.
Civilian casualties increased 19 per cent overall from last year, said Mr. Haysom, who was joined at the briefing by Georgette Gagnon, the director of UNAMA Human Rights. These casualties resulted mostly from ground engagements between parties to the conflict, improvised explosive devices, and suicide and complex attacks. Insurgents were responsible for at least 75 per cent of the casualties, said Ms. Gagnon.
In his briefing to the Security Council yesterday, Mr. Haysom referred to the 23 November suicide attack on a large crowd watching a volleyball match in Paktika, killing at least 53 civilians, including 21 children, as an example of a shift in approach of anti-Government elements.
Mr. Haysom told journalists that UNAMA is continuing discussions with all parties, including the Taliban, to strengthen mitigating measures to limit the impact of the conflict on civilians.
Ms. Gagnon announced that the number of civilians killed and injured in the first eleven months of this year in Afghanistan total 9,617, with 3,188 civilian killed and 6,429 injured.
Children civilian casualties increased 33 per cent compared to 2013, with casualties among women up 12 per cent. Ms. Gagnon said that current projections indicate that 2014 will be the first year that the civilian casualty count will pass 10,000 civilian casualties since UNAMA began its reports.