Afghan civilian casualties have decreased 13 percent in the first six months of the year in comparison with the same period in 2019, the UN mission in the country said on Monday.

"While the civilian casualty figures represent a 13 percent decrease as compared to the first six months of 2019, Afghanistan remains one of the deadliest conflicts in the world for civilians," UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a statement.

The main reason for the lower number of civilian casualties was due to a reduction in operations by NATO and US-led forces and a decline in attacks by the Islamic State (IS) terror group, Xinhua news agency quoted the statement as saying.

Afghanistan and Taliban Fighting Affects Civilians

But there has been no reduction in civilian casualties caused by the Taliban and Afghan national security forces, it added

"At a time when the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban have a historic opportunity to come together at the negotiating table for peace talks, the tragic reality is that the fighting continues inflicting terrible harm to civilians every day," Deborah Lyons, special UN envoy and head of UN mission, was quoted in the statement as saying.

Afghanistan Flag
Afghanistan Flag Pixabay

"I urge the parties to pause, to reflect on the chilling incidents and the harm that they are causing to the Afghan people as documented in this report, and to take decisive action to stop the carnage and get to the negotiating table."

Indirect Firing A Leading Cause of Casualties

A total of 1,282 civilians were killed and 2,176 others wounded during the period, according to the statement.

"Ground engagements remained the leading cause of civilian casualties with the majority two-thirds caused by the use of indirect fire, particularly in civilian-populated areas. The use of improvised explosive devices (suicide and non-suicide) was the second leading cause of civilian casualties, followed by targeted killings."

The UNAMA has attributed 58 percent of civilian casualties to the Taliban and other insurgent groups, 23 percent to security forces over the period while the rest 19 percent were caused by other reasons.

Afghanistan and the Taliban