ARM Report: Conflict kills and injures 14 civilians every day

Kabul, 12 July 2010: Almost six civilian people were killed and eight were wounded each day in conflict-related incidents from 1 January to 30 June 2010, Afghanistan Rights Monitor (ARM) said today in a mid-year report on civilian casualties of war.

In total, at least 1,074 civilians were killed and over 1,500 were injured in armed violence in the first half of this year; which indicates a slight – 1.3% – increase in the reported number of civilian casualties of war compared to the same period last year.

Over 60% of the recorded civilian deaths (661 individuals) are attributed to insurgent groups who showed little or no respect to the safety and protection of non-combatants. Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) killed 282 civilians, more than any other war activity, followed by suicide attacks in which 127 civilian people lost their lives.

The number of civilians killed by US/NATO forces reduced considerably during the reporting period largely due to restrictions imposed on the use of air strikes. However, 210 civilians were killed by US/NATO troops in the past six months. At least 108 civilian deaths were attributed to Afghan Government forces (police, army and militias) while 67 civilian people were killed by armed men associated with private security firms or armed criminal groups.

In addition to deaths and injuries, conflict-related insecurity had extensive adverse impacts on civilian communities all over the country, particularly in the southern provinces. Essential services such as health, education and humanitarian and development assistances were disrupted and blocked in large swathes of the country while predatory and abusive governance deprived many people from justice and opportunities.

The arrival of thousands of additional US/NATO forces into the country, and the desire to “disrupt, dismantle and defeat” the insurgents and their al Qaeda associates by military might, bodes ill to civilian Afghans who have suffered the brunt of war casualties. The troop surge and the appointment of Gen. David Petraeus as the commander of all US/NATO forces has widely been interpreted as ‘the last push before exit’ which not only has emboldened the insurgents but has also encouraged Pakistan, Iran and other regional interventionist states to resurface and back proxies for a post-US/NATO Afghanistan.

Because an alarming number of civilians have been killed, wounded and affected by IED attacks, ARM calls on the Afghan Government, US/NATO, insurgents and other key actors to stop, or at least reduce and control, their production and indiscriminate use. As conflict intensifies, the government and its foreign supporters must enhance activities to meet the needs of conflict-affected communities. The UN and other aid agencies should be encouraged to reestablish presence in insecure areas – where needs are paramount – and provide effective humanitarian and development assistance.

ARM has also called on the regional states, particularly on Pakistan and Iran, to stop sheltering, supporting and using insurgent groups for illicit gains in Afghanistan.

For further information and to download a copy of ARM’s mid-year report, please visit: www.arm.org.af

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