Civilian casualties in Afghan conflict decrease in 2012: UNAMA

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Civilian casualties in Afghanistan's armed conflict decreased for the first time in six years, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

In its 2012 Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict prepared in coordination with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, UNAMA documented a 12 per cent drop in civilian deaths and a marginal increase in civilian injuries compared with 2011.

The report attributed the reduction in civilian casualties in 2012 to fewer deaths and injuries of civilians from ground engagement among parties to the conflict, a decline in suicide attacks by Anti-Government Elements, reduced numbers of aerial operations, and other measures taken by Pro-Government Forces to minimize harm to civilians.

At the same time, however, UNAMA observed increasing threats to civilians in 2012 associated with the presence and re-emergence of armed groups, particularly in the north and northeast regions of Afghanistan. Civilians also faced an increase in threats, intimidation and interference with their rights to education, health, justice and freedom of movement from Anti-Government Elements.

United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, Ján Kubiš, said "The decrease in civilian casualties UNAMA documented in 2012 is very much welcome, yet, the human cost of the conflict remains unacceptable". He said "Indiscriminate and unlawful use of improvised explosive devices by Anti-Government Elements remains the single biggest killer of civilians".

The report found that women and girls continued to suffer enormously from the effects of armed conflict. UNAMA documented 864 female casualties (301 deaths and 563 injuries) in 2012.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’42″

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