Civilian death toll, its only solution

Wednesday, 08 February 2017 04:18 Written by  Heart of Asia Read 312 times

The United Nations released its report on civilian casualties in Afghanistan on Monday. According to the figures documented by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), 11418 Afghan civilians suffered casualties in 2016, of which 3498 are killed and 7920 more wounded. The UN has blamed anti-government elements for 61 percent (about two thirds) of the casualties. Since 2009 when UNAMA began to record the number of Afghan civilians killed or wounded in conflict-related incidents, civilian casualties seem to have been on an upward trajectory. The United Nations has only released the figures of casualties caused by the ongoing conflict, but has not acted and fulfilled its responsibility as a credible international organization. Instead of exerting its influence to force the warring parties to protect Afghan civilians, UNAMA has played the role of a statistical organization, and thinks that only the release of reports suffice. 



While the leadership of all parties to the conflict asserts they keenly heed the protection of civilian lives, the ground realities show the opposite trend. Afghan conflict continues to claim the lives of civilians, even women and children. The most harrowing thing in the 2016 UN civilian casualty report is that the casualties of children have hit record high, with 923 fatalities and 2,589 injuries, registering a 24 percent surge compared to 2015.


The record level casualties of civilians further underline the need for a peaceful settlement of the Afghan conflict, the continuity of which not only claims the lives of the belligerent sides, but also of civilians and even children. The blame game of the parties to the conflict over civilian casualties cannot heal the wounds of families who have lost or continue to lose their dear ones. 


As long as the war is ongoing, the complete prevention of civilian casualties seems impracticable even the warring sides take measures to protect them, and so they will inevitably continue to bear the brunt of the violence. The non-combatants can only breathe a sigh of relief where there is peace. If the government, insurgents and international community truly care for the protection and well-being of Afghans who have been bearing the brunt of the conflict for decades, they should work for peace as it is the only way to ensure the protection of ordinary people. 


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