UNAMA Report on Protection of Civilians in Afghanistan for 2013

About the author(s):

Katharine Fortin is an Associate Professor at Utrecht University where she teaches IHL and IHRL. Before joining Utrecht University, she worked at the ICTY, ICC and Norton Rose Fulbright. She is the author of The Accountability of Armed Groups under Human Rights Law (Oxford University Press, 2017) which won the 2018 Lieber Prize. She has written widely about the framework of law that applies to armed groups in non-international armed conflicts and is one of the editors of the Armed Groups and International Law blog.

Page 1 UNAMA ReportOn Saturday 8th February 2014, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) published its annual report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in Afghanistan for 2013 covering the period 1 January to 31 December 2013.

The report was prepared pursuant to UNAMA’s mandate under United Nations Security Council Resolution 2096 (2013) “to monitor the situation of civilians, to coordinate efforts to ensure their protection, to promote accountability, and to assist in the full implementation of the fundamental freedoms and human rights provisions of the Afghan Constitution and international treaties to which Afghanistan is a State party, in particular those regarding the full enjoyment by women of their human rights.”

The report indicates an escalation of civilian casualties from 2012 and attributes 74% of all civilian deaths and injuries to Anti-Government elements.

Here are the key extracts from the Executive Summary:

  • – The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) documented 8,615 civilian casualties (2,959 civilian deaths and 5,656 injured) in 2013, marking a seven percent increase in deaths, 17 percent increase in injured, and a 14 percent increase in total civilian casualties compared to 2012.
  •  – Escalating deaths and injuries to civilians in 2013 reverses the decline recorded in 2012 and is consistent with record high numbers of civilian casualties documented in 2011.
  •  – Mirroring the trends reported in UNAMA’s 2013 Mid-year Report on Protection of Civilians in the Armed Conflict, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) used by Anti-Government Elements particularly in areas populated or frequented by civilians was the main factor that drove the escalation in civilian casualties across Afghanistan in 2013.
  •  – Increased ground engagements between Anti-Government Elements and Pro-Government Forces with civilians caught in the crossfire was a new trend with ground engagements causing 27 percent of all civilian deaths and injuries in 2013.
  •  – UNAMA attributed 74 percent of civilian deaths and injuries to Anti-Government Elements, 11 percent to Pro-Government Forces (eight percent to Afghan national security forces and three percent to international forces) and ten percent to ground engagements between Anti-Government Elements and Pro-Government Forces.
  •  – UNAMA observed that 2013 was the worst year for Afghan women, girls and boys since 2009 with the highest recorded number of women and children’s deaths and injuries. Conflict-related violence caused 746 women casualties (235 women killed and 511 injured), up 36 percent from 2012. Child casualties increased by 34 percent compared to 2013 to 1,756 with 561 children killed and 1,195 injured.
  •  – In line with the new trend of increased civilian casualties from ground engagements, 39 percent of all women and children casualties were from ground engagements which caused the most women and child casualties in 2013. While ground engagements injured the most women and children in 2013, IEDs remained the biggest killer of women and children.

For previous post on this blog regarding UNAMA’s Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict Report 2012 see here: Mullah Omar urges the Taliban to avoid civilian deaths: a cause to celebrate?

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