Civilian casualties in Afghanistan down, but still high
Afghan civilian casualties dropped for the first time in five years, according to the United Nations.
The U.N. report compared the first six months of this year and 2011, and showed a 15 percent decrease in civilian casualties.
“This is the first time we have seen a sustained decline in civilian casualties which actually reverses a sustained five year trend of increasing of civilian casualties,” UN human rights official James Rodehaver said, according to AFP.
However, casualty figures still remain high.
As a result of the decade-long war between Taliban insurgents and the Kabul government, supported by NATO, 3,021 civilians died last year.
During this year’s first six months alone, 1,145 civilians were killed in Taliban insurgent attacks. While insurgents were responsible for 90 percent of the non-combatant casualties, NATO was responsible for the remaining 10 percent.
“This report does not suggest that Afghans are necessarily safer or better protected in their communities, nor does it suggest any real or concerted attempt by anti-government elements to minimize civilian casualties,” the deputy U.N. chief in Afghanistan, Nicholas Haysom, was quoted by CBS News as saying.
Although the danger of insurgent suicide attacks and NATO airstrikes lessens, civilians are still exposed to the threat of targeted killings and assassinations.