Civilian casualties reach 5,183 in violence-marred Afghanistan in 2021 so far: UN

The Anti-Government elements (AGE) in Afghanistan have been responsible for 64% of the total civilian casualties: 39% by Taliban, nearly 9% by Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISIL-KP), and 16% by the undetermined AGEs.

Updated: Jul 27, 2021 17:59 IST
Increase in violence in Afghanistan
Increase in violence in Afghanistan

According to the United Nations Agency, civilian casualties in Afghanistan in the first half of 2021 have reached record levels with over 1,659 people killed and 3,254 others wounded.

The rise is mainly because of a spike in violence in May 2021 that corresponded with the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.

The UN agency, in a new report, warned that without a significant de-escalation in violence, Afghanistan is on course for 2021 to witness the highest ever number of documented civilian casualties in a single year since the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) records began.

The UN report reads “Of serious concern is the acute rise in a number of civilians killed and injured in the period from May 1, with almost as many as civilian casualties in the May-June period as recorded in the entire preceding four months.

Increase in civilian casualties in Afghanistan: Key details

•  The UNAMA’s Afghanistan Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict Midyear Update 2021 has documented 5,183 civilian casualties which is a 47% increase compared with the same period in 2020.

•  The Anti-Government elements (AGE) have been responsible for 64% of the total civilian casualties: 39% by Taliban, nearly 9% by Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISIL-KP), and 16% by the undetermined AGEs.

•  Much of the battlefield action during the most deadly months of May and June 2021 has taken place outside the cities, in those areas with comparatively low population levels.


The United Nations is gravely concerned that if intensive military action is undertaken in the urban areas of the country with high population densities, the consequence for the Afghan civilians will be catastrophic.

The UN report provides a clear warning that the unprecedented numbers of Afghan civilians will perish and be maimed this year if the increasing violence is not controlled.

What solution does the UN suggest?

The Secretary- General’s Special Representatives for Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons said that the Taliban and Afghan leaders must take heed of the conflict’s grim and chilling trajectory and its devastating impact on the civilians.

The UN envoy called on the Afghan and Taliban leaders to intensify the efforts at the negotiating table and stop the Afghan against Afghan fighting, protect the people, and given them hope for a better future.

Withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan: Is it causing the increase in violence?

The rise in violence in Afghanistan can be seen in the light of the latest withdrawal of foreign troops from the country.

US President Joe Biden had announced on April 13, 2021, that the US will withdraw all the remaining American troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021. It will be the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 coordinated terrorist attacks.

The US and NATO groups had sent their troops to Afghanistan to target the Al-Qaeda camps in the country in response to the attacks that brought down the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in 2011. The troops successfully drove the Taliban from power in order to deny Al-Qaeda a safe base of operations in Afghanistan.

However, the withdrawal of the foreign troops has now again led to the domination of the Taliban and other radical forces causing record-level violence in the country.

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