Quarterly report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict: (1 January to 31 March 2019) [EN/Dari/PS]
In the first quarter of 2019, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) continued to document high levels of harm to civilians from the armed conflict. From 1 January to 31 March 2019, UNAMA documented 1,773 civilian casualties (581 deaths and 1,192 injured), including 582 child casualties (150 deaths and 432 injured). This represents a 23 per cent decrease in overall civilian casualties as compared to the same period last year and is the lowest for a first quarter since 2013.
The overall reduction of civilian casualties was driven by a decrease in civilian casualties by suicide improvised explosive device (IED) attacks. UNAMA notes the particularly harsh winter conditions during the first three months of the year, which may have contributed to this trend. It is unclear whether the decrease in civilian casualties was influenced by any measures taken by parties to the conflict to better protect civilians, or by the ongoing talks between parties to the conflict.
UNAMA is very concerned by the continued targeting of civilians and increase in civilian casualties from the use of non-suicide IEDs by Anti-Government Elements, as well as significant increases in civilian casualties from aerial and search operations, which drove an overall increase in civilian casualties by Pro-Government Forces. Civilian deaths attributed to Pro-Government Forces surpassed those attributed to Anti-Government Elements during the first quarter of 2019.
Ground engagements were the leading cause of civilian casualties, causing approximately onethird of the total. A single mortar attack incident by Daesh/Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) on 7 March 2019 in Kabul caused approximately one-fifth of all civilian casualties from ground engagements (see below). The use of IEDs was the second leading cause of civilian casualties. Contrary to 2017 and 2018 trends, the majority of IED civilian casualties were caused by nonsuicide IEDs rather than suicide IEDs. Aerial operations were the leading cause of civilian deaths and the third leading cause of civilian casualties, followed by targeted killings and explosive remnants of war. Civilians living in Kabul, Helmand, Nangarhar, Faryab and Kunduz provinces were most affected (in that order).
The overall decrease in civilian casualties was largely driven by a significant - 76 per cent - reduction in civilian casualties from suicide IED attacks. During the first quarter of 2019, UNAMA documented four suicide IED attacks resulting in 178 civilian casualties, as compared to 19 incidents resulting in 751 civilian casualties during the same period in 2018. All four attacks were attributed to Taliban. Civilian casualties from ground engagements also reduced by 13 per cent. However, UNAMA is very concerned by Anti-Government Elements’ continued targeting of civilians and the increase in civilian casualties from non-suicide IEDs (21 per cent increase), as well as the continuing, significant increase in civilian casualties from aerial operations (41 per cent increase) and search operations (85 per cent increase) by Pro-Government Forces.