Explosive violence in Afghanistan

Afghanistan sees 53% rise in civilian casualties from explosive violence, compared to first 5 months of 2016

So far this year (January-May), Afghanistan has already seen 1,229 civilians deaths and injuries from explosive violence, including those from today’s IED attack in Kabul, which killed 80 and injured 350. This is a 53% increase compared to the harm seen in the same period last year.

88% of all civilian casualties from explosive violence in Afghanistan so far this year have been caused by IEDs.

Afghanistan has consistently been one of the states worst impacted by explosive violence. Between 2011-2016 Afghanistan has seen 20,625 deaths and injuries from explosive violence. Of these, 63% (12,922) were civilians.

IEDs have, by far, caused the most harm in this period, with 81% of civilian deaths and injuries caused by such weapons.

Whilst civilian harm from explosive violence is not currently at the level it has reached in some previous years, notably 2011, the harm caused is still significant.

Last year, there were 4,095 deaths and injuries from explosive violence – 54% (2,199) were civilians. The number of civilian casualties from explosive violence, represented an 8% increase from the previous year. Of the civilian deaths and injuries, 84% were caused by IEDs.

Whilst security personnel such as police and military have also seen losses due to IED use, Afghan civilians continue to bear the brunt of this harm. When IEDs have been used in populated areas so far this year, an average of 98% of the casualties have been civilians.

In December, 2015 the General Assembly of the United Nations in their Seventieth Session adopted Resolution A/RES/70/46 – ‘Countering the threat posed by improvised explosive devices.’ The Resolution, which expressed grave concern over the devastation caused by the increasing use of improvised explosive devices was submitted by the government of Afghanistan.

Whilst Afghanistan does express a desire to counter the threat of IEDs, the impact of such devices has been increasing since 2013, despite a continued steady decrease in the number of IED incidents, as can be seen in the table below.

More needs to be done to counter IEDs at state and global level, which requires greater cooperation and coordination between all states and relevant organisations. AOAV calls for states and international organisations to work collaboratively to generate greater awareness of the number of civilians killed and injured each year by IEDs, and encourage a greater stigma from political, religious and social leaders on the use of IEDs. States must urgently address the threat of IED attacks. There is an urgent need for preventative measures to be implemented by States and the international community to reduce the impact of such devices in countries such as Afghanistan and others highly impacted by IEDs.

For more on counter-IED initiatives, please see here.

To read AOAV’s latest report, Understanding the regional and transnational networks that facilitate IED use, please read here.