Children must be 'off limits' during times of fighting, warns Save the Children, as grim new UN figures reveal almost three children per day were killed by conflict in Afghanistan in 2016

Save the Children has expressed its alarm at shocking new UN figures that reveal 2016 to be the most deadly year on record for children in Afghanistan.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan report found that 923 children were killed during conflict last year, while more than 2,500 children were injured. Together this represents a massive 24 percent increase in total child casualties and the highest number since the agency began recording casualties in 2009.

“These figures are extremely concerning, and represent a very real failure to protect the most vulnerable in Afghan society at a time when they need it most. Almost 1000 children were killed from conflict in Afghanistan last year – that’s nearly three per day,” Save the Children Country Director in Afghanistan Ana Locsin said.

“This simply isn’t good enough. Children are innocent victims of conflict and need to be protected at all costs. They must be seen as off limits no matter what.

“We’re calling on all parties to conflict in Afghanistan to do everything in their power to protect children at all times, and especially during times of fighting.”

Unsurprisingly, the figures come amid a year in which there was a surge of violence across Afghanistan, including major outbreaks of fighting in Kunduz and Helmand.

Adding to the crisis in Afghanistan where 9.3 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, more than 600,000 Afghans returned from Pakistan last year following a tightening in regulations by Pakistani authorities.

“The humanitarian situation across much of Afghanistan has deteriorated significantly in the past 12 months, and with the start of the traditional fighting season not far away with the end of winter, it could get even worse in the coming months,” Ms Locsin said.

“It’s a critical time in Afghanistan, when far more international help is most definitely needed.”

Save the Children has been working in Afghanistan since 1976, running a broad range of development and humanitarian programs including in health, education and child protection.

For media inquiries, contact Mariam Atahi in Kabul on +93 729 904 461 or Evan Schuurman in Bangkok on +66 989 725 908.