UN warns of 'unprecedented' Afghan civilian deaths due to Taliban offensives

WION Web Team
New DelhiUpdated: Jul 26, 2021, 02:05 PM IST

File photo. Photograph:(Reuters)

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The Taliban has gone on the offensive since May and had mades significant gains

United Nations on Monday warned that Taliban offensives may cause 'unprcedented' civilian deaths in Afghanistan if the offensive is not halted. Violence in Afghanistan has surged since May when the insurgents went on the offensive to coincide with the withdrawal of foreign troops.

UN Assitance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a report released on Monday that the number of civilian deaths may touch their highest single-year levels since the mission began reporting a decade ago.

It also warned that Afghan troops and pro-government forces were responsible for a quarter of all civilian casualties.

"Unprecedented numbers of Afghan civilians will perish and be maimed this year if the increasing violence is not stemmed," UNAMA head Deborah Lyons said in a statement released with the report.

"I implore the Taliban and Afghan leaders to take heed to the conflict's grim and chilling trajectory and its devastating impact on civilians."

The UNAMA report said in the first half of 2021, some 1,659 civilians were killed and another 3,254 wounded. This was a 47 per cent increase compared to the same period last year.

Civilian casualties rose sharply in May and June. 783 civilians were killed and 1609 were wounded. This was the early period of Taliban offensive

"Particularly shocking and of deep concern is that women, boys and girls made up of close to half of all civilian casualties," the report said.

UNAMA blames anti-government forces for 64 per cent of civilian casualties -- including some 40 percent caused by the Taliban and nearly nine percent by the jihadist Islamic State group.

The Taliban has been on the offensive since May and have made significant gains in past few months. By many estimates the insurgent group has control of half of the country and vital border crossings. A few days ago, Taliban claimed that it controls 90 per cent of the Afghan border. But the claim was heavily contested by the Afghan government.

(With inputs from agencies)