Left-Behind Explosives Taking Deadlier Toll on Afghan Children, U.N. Says
KABUL, Afghanistan — Months after intense fighting between the Afghan government and the Taliban subsided on the outskirts of Kunduz, Hajji Habib Rahmani’s family decided to go ahead with a delayed wedding.
Amid the festivities, Abdul Basit, one of the children playing behind the house, picked up an unexploded shell, and it blew up. Basit, 14, and his brother Haroon, 8, were killed, and 12 other children between the ages of 7 and 15 were wounded.
The shell had been “fired from a helicopter during the fighting, and it hadn’t exploded,” said Mr. Rahmani, the uncle of the two brothers.
On Monday, the United Nations mission in Afghanistan reported that 2016 had been another year of record civilian casualties in the country, and it expressed particular concern about a 65 percent jump in the number of children killed or injured by explosive remnants as fighting has spread to heavily populated civilian areas.
The report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, or Unama, said that overall civilian casualties had continued their steady increase in recent years. In 2016, 3,498 civilians were killed and 7,920 others wounded — an increase of 3 percent over the previous year, the report said.
“In 2016, Unama documented record numbers of civilian casualties from ground engagements, suicide and complex attacks and explosive remnants of war, as well as the highest number of civilian casualties caused by aerial operations since 2009,” the report said.
Afghanistan is still having to clear what remains of the hundreds of thousands of decades-old mines and explosive remnants dating as far back as the 1979-89 war with the Soviet Union, even as newer explosives take lives on a daily basis.- Read More, nytimes