WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - The United Nations reported Sunday that Afghan hostilities in 2015 left more than 3,500 civilians dead, including an unprecedented number of children - one in four casualties over the past year was a child - and nearly 7,500 others wounded, making this the highest number of civilian casualties recorded.
'This report records yet another rise in the number of civilians hurt or killed. The harm done to civilians is totally unacceptable,' said Nicholas Haysom, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of the UN Assistance Mission in the country (UNAMA).
The annual report, produced by the UNAMA in coordination with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Office (OHCHR), shows that increased ground fighting in and around populated areas, along with suicide and other attacks in major cities, were the main causes of conflict-related civilian deaths and injuries in 2015.
UNAMA documented 11,002 civilian casualties (3,545 deaths and 7,457 injured) in 2015, exceeding the previous record levels of civilian casualties that occurred in 2014. The latest figures show an overall increase of four per cent during 2015 in total civilian casualties from the previous year. UNAMA began its systematic documentation of civilian casualties in 2009.
Some of the report's other key findings highlight that anti-Government elements continued to cause the most harm - 62 per cent of all civilian casualties - despite a 10 per cent reduction from 2014 in the total civilian casualties resulting from their attacks.
Notwithstanding the overall decrease, the report documents anti-Government elements increasing use of some tactics that deliberately or indiscriminately cause civilian harm, including targeted killings of civilians, complex and suicide attacks, as well as indiscriminate and illegal pressure-plate IEDs.
Civilian deaths and injuries caused by pro-Government forces caused 17 per cent of civilian casualties - 14 per cent from Afghan security forces, two per cent from international military forces, and one per cent from pro-Government armed groups. The report documents increased civilian casualties caused by pro-Government forces, including during ground engagements, aerial operations, and the activities of pro-Government armed groups.
In 2015, UNAMA documented a 37 per cent increase in women casualties and a 14 per cent increase in child casualties.
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