Contribute to next human rights report: UN envoy tells Taliban

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The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has again called on the Taliban and anti-Government elements to reduce civilian casualties in Afghanistan and to contribute to human rights reports on the protection of civilians which UNAMA produces.

"It's time for the Taliban and anti-Government elements to meet their obligations to prevent civilian deaths," de Mistura told UN News. "I repeat my call on the Taliban to renounce the tactics of killing civilians and targeting civilian locations such as schools and hospitals. I invite the Taliban and all anti-Government elements to engage with the United Nations human rights team, and come forward with information on civilian casualties."

The Annual Report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in Afghanistan 2010 that was jointly released with the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) in March this year documented 2,777 conflict-related civilian deaths, an increase of 15 per cent compared to the previous year. Anti-Government elements were linked to 2,080, or about three quarters of all deaths. The report also called on all parties to the armed conflict in Afghanistan to escalate their efforts to protect Afghan civilians in 2011. The report found that pro-government forces, including international military forces were linked to 16 per cent of total civilian deaths in 2010.

In a recent statement the Taliban criticized the United Nations and other human rights organizations claiming they inaccurately reported civilian casualties and unfairly blamed the Taliban for civilian deaths.

The civilian casualties report released by UNAMA's Human Rights Unit every six months is based on extensive field research, data collection and analysis and rigorous verification procedures.

At a press conference to release the 2010 report in March, de Mistura called on the Taliban to contribute to the next report.

"Enter into a dialogue to contribute with facts and to reducing the huge amount of civilian victims. At the same time, dialogue can contribute to correcting what you consider to be inaccurate information."

De Mistura emphasised that the United Nations works with pro-government forces to implement their legal obligations to protect civilians.

"One Afghan civilian death no matter which party is responsible is one too many," said DeMistura. The 2011 mid-year report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in Afghanistan is expected to be released in July this year.