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AOAV records 27% rise in Afghanistan civilian casualties in 2018

In the first half of 2018, Action on Armed Violence recorded 2,002 civilian casualties from explosive violence in Afghanistan, compared to the 1,581 civilian casualties recorded in the same period last year – an increase of 27%.

From January to the end of June 2018, the main cause of civilian casualties from explosive violence in Afghanistan continues to be improvised explosive devices (IEDs), responsible for 83% of all civilian casualties.

Nonetheless, an increase in civilian casualties from all three of the main explosive weapons types has been recorded by AOAV’s English language media monitor; with a 200% rise in civilian casualties from airstrikes (from 61 to 183), a 96% increase in civilian casualties from ground-launched weapons (from 79 to 155), and a 15% rise in civilian casualties from IEDs (from 1,436 to 1,656).

Despite the significant increase in civilian harm from airstrikes, it is non-state actors that are persistently causing the most civilian casualties. However, whilst Taliban violence has seen a mild reduction, attacks by ISIS elements in Afghanistan are on the rise.

AOAV recorded a 16% reduction in the number of civilian casualties from IED attacks claimed by the Taliban in the first half of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017 (from 484 to 406). At the same time, there was a 345% increase in the number of civilian casualties from IED attacks claimed by ISIS and their affiliates in Afghanistan (136 to 605). Of these, 99.5% (602) were caused by suicide attacks.

With civilian casualties from IEDs increasing year-on-year in Afghanistan since 2013, 2017 saw a rise of 40% compared to the previous year. And, for the first time in AOAV’s recording, Afghanistan was the country worst impacted by IEDs – a spot claimed by Iraq for the previous six years.

A UN report released in early July reported a record high in civilian deaths in Afghanistan with a 1% rise in civilian deaths – including ground assaults and targeted killings – compared to the previous year. Similarly to AOAV, UNAMA also recorded a surge in ISIS IED attacks, particularly suicide and other complex attacks.

With civilian casualties already set to be higher this year in Afghanistan, the level of IED harm should be of considerable concern. 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. There is an urgent need for preventative measures to be implemented by States and the international community.