A new report released by Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) has found that the Taliban is responsible for 71 percent of the total of 10,772 civilian casualties (2,817 killed and 7,955 wounded) in 2019. According to the report, the Islamic State – Khurasan Province (ISKP), also known as ISIS, is responsible for five percent while Afghan and international forces are responsible for 14 percent of the civilian casualties. The perpetrators for nine percent of the casualties remain known.
“Use of IEDs, complex suicide attacks, ground battles, rocket fires, terror, airstrikes and night raids are the major causes of civilian casualties respectively,” the report says about the civilian casualty toll in 2019.
Distinguishing by geographic location, AIHRC says that majority of civilian casualties occurred in South-Western zone, counting for 32 percent, Eastern zone for 21 percent, Central zone for 20 percent, Northeastern zone for nine percent, Western zone for seven percent, North zone for six percent, and Southern zone for four percent of the total casualties in 2019.
Decrease in civilian casualties
According to the report, civilian casualties have decreased by seven percent compared to the same period in 2018, when there was a total of 11,611 casualties. It reveals there is a 38 percent reduction of civilian casualties in last three months of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018. “Overall, the violence has reduced significantly between the warring and conflicting parties during the last three months of 2019,” the report says.
Speaking at the launching ceremony of the report, Mohammad Naeem Nazari, a commissioner of AIHRC, noted that there seems to be a connection between reduction of civilian casualties and peace talks. “The other important factor behind reduction of civilian casualties is destruction of Daesh bases in the eastern part of the country and arrest of its militants and affiliated networks,” he further said.
The AIHRC, however, has described first three months of 2019 as a deadliest period for civilian in Afghanistan.
According to the report, 282 women were killed and 692 others wounded by conflict in 2019 while the total number of women casualty in 2018 was 912. A total of 2,694 children were killed and wounded in 2019 while casualty toll of children as the result of conflict was reported 2,690 in 2018. Women and children casualties have marginally increased comparing to the previous year for what the AIHRC alleged to “change in military approach” of the warring parties.
Casualties of non-combatant men has fallen by 13 percent in 2019.
Describing 2019 as a challenging year for journalists, the report indicates that ten journalists were killed and 21 other were wounded throughout the year.
According to the AIHRC, 70,594 families have been displaced as the result of armed conflict between government forces and anti-government militants, and also as the result of threats posed by illegal armed groups in Central, North-Eastern, Western, Eastern, and Southern zones. The IDPs are facing many challenges and hardships in areas where they are currently displaced to.
Airstrikes and night raids
Although the AIHRC report indicates a 21 percent reduction in civilian casualties caused by airstrikes, a total of 750 non-combatants have been harmed in airstrikes conducted by Afghan and international forces in 2019.
Civilian casualties in night raids conducted by Afghan forces and their international partners, however, has increased by 79 percent in 2019. A total of 104 civilians were killed in night raids in 2019 while, in 2018, the civilian death toll caused by night raids amounts to 58 people.
Expressing concern over inaccuracy of government forces, the AIHRC officials urged the Afghan government not to conduct raids based on inaccurate intelligence or attack that caused civilian casualties.
The AIHRC commissioner, Naeem Nazari, complained that no fact finding committee formed after protest raised over civilian casualties has publicized their findings yet. “The fact finding committees are just to deceive the people,” he asserted.
Civilian casualties over past decade
The AIHRC report says that 28,979 civilians were killed and 57,844 others wounded between 2019 and 2019 in Afghanistan.
As Mr. Nazari stated, the AIHRC has also recorded security incidents occurred in Taliban controlled areas through indirect contacts with authorities of hospitals and local officials while registering the incidents directly in government held areas through its provincial offices in 14 provinces.
The AIHRC urged the Taliban to provide ground for visits of AIHRC delegations in areas under their control.
The commission further called on the warring parties to respect international humanitarian principles. It also asked the Afghan government to identify the violator of international humanitarian laws and prosecute them.
On the other hand, the human rights commission has urged the Afghan government to pave the ground for involvement of the International Criminal Court in the situation of Afghanistan.
The commission urges the warring parties to start the intra-Afghan talks as soon as possible and held a nationwide ceasefire.