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UNAMA quarterly report on conflict levels, Afghanistan, Jan – Mar 2019

April 24, 2019

Summary: UNAMA civilian casualty statistics for Jan-Mar 2019 show a noticeable drop compared to the same period in 2018 and highlights an increase in civilian deaths at the hands of pro-government forces

The United Nations Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has released its latest data concerning civilian casualty levels in Afghanistan for the first quarter of this year.  In comparison to first quarter statistics over ten years, from 2009 to 2019, casualty and death levels appear noticeably lower this year – 581 recorded civilian deaths over January to March 2019 compared to 799 deaths over the same period in 2018.  UNAMA judge this to be due primarily to a decrease in civilian casualties from suicide IED attacks.  The harsh winter conditions may also have played a part.  Ground engagements were noted as the leading cause of civilian casualties, and air operations were the leading cause of civilian deaths.

UNAMA also notes with concern that pro-government forces (including Afghan National Security Forces, international forces and pro-government armed groups) have in this quarter caused more civilian deaths than the Taliban and Islamic State – 305 killed versus 227 killed.

Comment

It remains to be seen whether this dip becomes a trend: the Taliban have announced and launched their Spring Offensive recently.  They – and Islamic State – appear unlikely to stop or even moderate their military operations.  The ANSF have become more empowered with heavy weapon systems, such as artillery and air power.  They appear to have less of the tactical and operations skills and training to employ them.  This, for the time being, makes it likely that the ANSF may contribute to a greater proportion of the civilian casualties recorded, even if they are not specifically targeting civilians.

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