In the early morning of 27 December, ten Afghans were killed during a raid by Afghan and international military forces in Narang district of Kunar province. Many details of the incident remain unclear. Based on our initial investigation, eight of those killed were students enrolled in local schools. There is also evidence to strongly indicate that there were insurgents in the area at the time. UNAMA continues to investigate this incident to help bring clarity to the situation; I welcome efforts by the Government of Afghanistan and the international military to do the same. I appeal for calm while these investigations continue.

The United Nations remains concerned about night-time raids given that they often result in lethal outcomes for civilians, the dangerous confusion that frequently arises when a family compound is invaded, and the frustration of local authorities when operations are not coordinated with them. Night time raids are a source of great distress to the families which are directly affected as well as communities throughout Afghanistan given safety and cultural concerns. I continue to raise such matters with the concerned authorities.

UNAMA is equally concerned about the risks posed to civilians by insurgents living or operating in residential areas. They account for the majority and an increasing proportion of civilian deaths.

I appeal again to all of the armed actors to make every effort to minimise harm to civilians and want to underline the importance of taking all precautionary measures to distinguish between civilians and combatants. Greater efforts must be made to reverse current trends so that civilians are spared the worst effects of armed conflict in the coming year.

Kabul, 31 December 2009