8,820 Afghan civilians killed in 2020, UN reports

There was a rise in civilian casualty in Afghanistan ever since the start of Afghan peace talks in September 2020, says a report released by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the UN Human Rights Office.

Deborah Lyons, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, said thousands of Afghan civilians lost their lives to the ongoing bloody conflict. “2020 could have been the year of peace in Afghanistan. Instead, thousands of Afghan civilians perished due to the conflict,” Lyons said as quoted in the UN report.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan has called on the warring parties to take immediate steps to protect civilians. “This important report has the overriding objective of providing the parties responsible with the facts, and recommendations, so they take immediate and concrete steps to protect civilians. I urge them not to squander a single day in taking the urgent steps to avoid more suffering.”

A surge in violence has intensified ever since the start of peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. The Taliban militants have changed war tactics in recent months, targeting government workers, NGO employees, and rights activists in urban centers of the country. On September 12, the Afghan government and the Taliban, for the first time in 19 years began face-to-face talks in Doha, Qatar. Little progress has been made ever since the start of the talks.

Lyons has called on warring sides to establish a humanitarian ceasefire. “Parties refusing to consider a ceasefire must recognize the devastating consequences of such a posture on the lives of Afghan civilians.”

Afghanistan remains one of the deadliest countries for civilians and more than 3,000 civilians were killed in a single year, as reported by the UN.

As many as 3,035 civilians were killed and 5,875 were injured in 2020. Women and children remain the most vulnerable and they make up to 43 percent of all civilian casualties, according to the 2020 UN report.

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