UNAMA expresses grave concern at the high number of recent civilian casualties in Helmand

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KABUL - The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) expresses its grave concern at the recent escalation of violence in Helmand province, which reportedly claimed the lives of at least 25 civilians, mostly women and children, and injured many more.

On 9 and 10 February, International Military Forces conducted airstrikes in Helmand’s Sangin District reportedly targeting Anti-Government Elements. UNAMA’s initial enquiries suggest that the airstrikes killed at least 18 civilians, nearly all women and children. UNAMA notes that Resolute Support has initiated an investigation into the incident.

On 11 February, Taliban conducted a suicide attack targeting Afghan National Army soldiers outside of Kabul Bank in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand. The attack killed at least seven civilians, and at least as many were injured, mainly child vendors outside the bank.

The people of Helmand have suffered greatly due to the armed conflict in Afghanistan, with 891 civilians killed or injured during 2016. This figure was the highest in the country in 2016 outside of Kabul.

UNAMA reiterates the need for all parties to the conflict to strictly adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law to take all feasible measures to protect civilians from harm.

The UN Mission expresses its sincere condolences to the families of victims and hopes for a speedy recovery to those injured.