U.S. airstrikes contributed to a somber milestone in 2018: the highest number of civilians were killed in the war since records began a decade ago.
“The best way to halt the killings and maiming of civilians is to stop the fighting. That is why there is all the more need now to use all our efforts to bring about peace.”
—Tadamichi Yamamoto, UNAccording to the data released Sunday by the United Nations, there were 3,804 civilian deaths last year, which marks an 11 percent increase compared to 2017.
Among those thousands were 927 children—a figure U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called “particularly shocking.” The U.N. also said it was the highest child death toll recorded during a single year. Women and children together represented 38 per cent of all the civilian casualties.
“The report’s rigorously researched findings show that the level of harm and suffering inflicted on civilians in Afghanistan is deeply disturbing and wholly unacceptable,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the U.N. secretary-general’s Special Representative for Afghanistan. “All parties need to take immediate and additional concrete steps to stop a further escalation in the number of civilians harmed and lives destroyed.”
Revealing the scope of “human misery and tragedy,” Yamamoto added that 32,000 civilians were killed over the last decade.
The U.N. attributed the casualties to “anti-government elements” including the Taliban and Daesh (also known as the Islamic State) as well as pro-government forces including the Afghan national security forces and the U.S.-led international military coalition. These pro-government forces are blamed for 24 percent of the total civilian casualties.