KABUL - All sides in the Afghan conflict must do more to protect and respect the civilian population, said Afghans from different walks of life at a series of UN-backed forums taking place around the country.
For the fourth consecutive year, more than 10,000 civilians lost their lives or suffered injuries during 2017, according to the latest annual UN report documenting the impact of the armed conflict on civilians in Afghanistan.
Representatives from government, women organizations, the Afghan Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), civil society and religious institutions are taking part in numerous events around Afghanistan to discuss the impact of Afghanistan’s war on civilians.
Panelists taking part in a radio discussion in the eastern province of Nuristan demanded that both government forces and armed insurgents comply strictly with their obligations under international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law.
On a television roundtable in Jalalabad, participants shared concerns of the socio-economic impact of the conflict on communities and families, particularly women and children. Most cannot access health services, education or engage in employment, subsequently marginalizing and pushing them deeper into poverty.
“The human cost of this ugly war in Afghanistan – loss of life, destruction and immense suffering – is far too high” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, during the launch of the report in Kabul recently, in which a total of 10,453 civilian casualties - 3,438 people killed and 7,015 injured - were documented in 2017 by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the UN Human Rights Office. The findings show that majority of civilian casualties resulted from suicide attacks, IEDs, ground engagements, targeted killings, explosive remnants of war and air strikes.
Several programs, including television and radio discussions are planned in different regions such as Herat, Kandahar and Kunduz, all of which have seen some of the highest number of civilian casualties.
Key recommendations from the report and across the events include stronger measures to protect civilians, and a call for dialogue between warring parties to end the conflict. “We have to work for a peace agreement to end the conflict. Collective efforts must be redoubled to bring this conflict to an end” implored Yamamoto.
UNAMA supports the Afghan people and government to achieve peace and stability. In accordance with its mandate as a political mission, UNAMA backs conflict prevention and resolution, promoting inclusion and social cohesion, as well as strengthening regional cooperation. The Mission supports effective governance, promoting national ownership and accountable institutions that are built on respect for human rights.
UNAMA provides 'good offices' and other key services, including diplomatic steps that draw on the organization’s independence, impartiality and integrity to prevent disputes from arising, escalating or spreading. The Mission coordinates international support for Afghan development and humanitarian priorities.