5,166 civilians killed and maimed in Afghanistan in first half of 2016

KABUL, Afghanistan, July 25 (UPI) — The number of civilians in Afghanistan who have been killed or maimed this year hit 5,166 — a half-year record since the counting started in 2009, according to a U.N. report.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan documented 1,601 civilian deaths and 3,565 injured civilians between January and June of this year. That’s a 4 percent increase from the first six months of last year.

From Jan. 1, 2009 until June 30 this year, 22,941 people have been killed and 40,993 have been injured.

“The testimony of victims and their families brings into agonizing focus the tragedy of each one of the 63,934 people killed or maimed by this protracted conflict since 2009,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein in a press release.

Among the casualties this year, according to the report, were 1,509 children — 388 dead and 1,121 injured — and more than 500 women — 130 killed and 377 injured.

The figures are likely higher, the United Nations said, because of strict methodology in documenting and determining the civilian status of those affected.

Parties in the conflict must “do all they can to spare civilians from the horrors of war,” Tadamichi Yamamoto, the secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, said in a release.

“Every single casualty documented in this report – people killed while praying, working, studying, fetching water, recovering in hospitals – […] represents a failure of commitment and should be a call to action for parties to the conflict to take meaningful, concrete steps to reduce civilians’ suffering and increase protection,” Yamamoto said.

Some of the casualties are linked to suicide attacks and explosive devices.

The report revealed that 85 percent of the casualties caused by such devices were children, including some killed or maimed while playing with them.

The report also documented serious human rights violations and abuses, including “use of children in armed conflict, sexual violence against boys and girls, attacks on educational and health facilities, abductions and summary executions.”

The Taliban have targeted human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers and judges, the report said.

The reporting period came weeks before the Islamic State claimed responsibility for an explosion during a protest in Afghanistan, which killed at least 80 people and left at least 260 more injured.

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