For Afghan Children, A Year Even More Brutal Than The Last
In Afghanistan, the number of civilian casualties reached an all-time high in 2016, the United Nations reported Monday.
Nearly 11,500 civilians were killed and wounded in the country last year — including more than 3,500 children. It is an overall increase of 3 percent compared with 2015, which was the previous record-high since the U.N. began systematic documentation in 2009.
Among children, the latest numbers represent a staggering 24 percent increase in injuries and deaths.
Most of those child casualties came from fighting between different groups in heavily populated areas; however, there was also a sharp increase because of unexploded land mines, rockets and other remnants of war.
"After nearly 40 years of conflict in Afghanistan, U.N. officials warn Daesh is now surfacing as another deadly element in this endless war," Schlein reported.
As the U.N. report published Monday makes clear, the Afghan military and police were responsible for killing or injuring some 2,300 civilians, while NATO forces that are no longer engaged in a combat mission nonetheless were responsible for killing or injuring more than 220 civilians.
The report highlighted one incident in particular, questioning whether NATO airstrikes in a densely populated part of the city of Kunduz in November 2016 complied with international humanitarian law:
"The disproportionate rise in child casualties resulted mainly from an overall 66 percent increase in civilian casualties from unexploded remnants of war," explained Danielle Bell, the human rights director for the U.N. mission to Afghanistan. Bell said the vast majority — 86 percent — of people killed and injured by so-called unexploded ordnance were children.
Because Afghanistan has suffered back-to-back conflicts for decades, there are unexploded military remnants from multiple conflicts. But Bell and her team found a direct correlation between casualties from exploded ordinance and areas with the heaviest ground fighting in recent years, and concluded that the majority of casualties were the result of military remnants from the conflict that began with the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. - Read More, NPR