2018 saw highest number of Afghan civilian deaths: UN report

There are also tens of thousands of internally displaced Afghan civilians after fleeing fighting in their home provinces. (AFP)
Updated 24 February 2019
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2018 saw highest number of Afghan civilian deaths: UN report

  • The UN report comes amid efforts to find a peaceful end to the 17-year Afghan war
  • Since the UN began documenting civilian casualties 10 years ago, more than 32,000 civilians have been killed and another 60,000 wounded

KABUL, Afghanistan: More civilians were killed in Afghanistan last year than in any of the previous nine years of the increasingly bloody conflict, according to a UN report released Sunday, which blamed the spike in deaths on increased suicide bombings by the Daesh group and stepped up aerial attacks by US-led coalition forces.
In its annual report, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said 10,993 civilians were killed or wounded last year, the highest number since the international organization began tallying figures in 2009.
The report comes amid efforts to find a peaceful end to the 17-year war, which have accelerated since the appointment in September of US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who is to begin another round of talks with the Taliban on Monday in the Gulf state of Qatar, where they maintain a political office.
UN envoy Tadamichi Yamamoto called the spiraling number of civilian casualties “deeply disturbing and wholly unacceptable.”
Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians live as refugees in their own country after fleeing fighting in their home provinces. Tens of thousands more have fled their homeland, seeking safety in neighboring countries and in Europe.
According to the report, 63 percent of all civilian casualties were caused by insurgents, with the breakdown blaming the Taliban for 37 percent of the dead and wounded, the Daesh group for 20 percent, and a collection of other anti-government groups for the remaining 6 percent.
The government and its US and NATO allies were blamed for 24 percent of the dead and wounded civilians caught in the crossfire, many of them killed in stepped up aerial attacks, most of which are carried out by the US and NATO.
The report said civilian casualties at the hands of Afghan and international forces were up significantly in 2018 compared to 2017.
“For the first time since 2009 when it began systematically documenting civilian casualty figures, UNAMA recorded more than 1,000 civilian casualties from aerial operations,” the report said.
The US military says it carried out 6,823 sorties last year in which munitions were fired – the highest number in the last six years.
Last year “witnessed the highest number of civilian casualties ever recorded from suicide attacks and aerial operations,” according to the report, which said 3,804 people were killed and 7,189 were wounded.
Since the UN began documenting civilian casualties 10 years ago, more than 32,000 civilians have been killed and another 60,000 wounded.
“It is time to put an end to this human misery and tragedy,” said Yamamoto. “The best way to halt the killings and maiming of civilians is to stop the fighting. That is why there is all the more need now to use all our efforts to bring about peace.”
The US and the Taliban have openly embraced a strategy of talking while fighting, with the Taliban carrying out near-daily attacks on Afghanistan’s beleaguered security forces.
Afghan Forces are battling the Taliban throughout the country with support from their US-led coalition allies. The coalition and Afghanistan’s security forces have also been pounding Daesh positions, particularly in eastern Afghanistan, where the affiliate is based.


Former US VP Biden announces 2020 run for White House

Updated 25 April 2019
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Former US VP Biden announces 2020 run for White House

  • Biden joins an already crowded list of presidential candidates running from the Democratic party
  • He served eight years as Barack Obama’s vice president

WASHINGTON: Former US Vice President Joe Biden announced Thursday he is entering the 2020 White House race, joining an already crowded list of candidates running on the Democratic Party platform.
In a tweet accompanied by a three-and-a-half minute video, Biden said he couldn’t stand idly by while US President Donald Trump “fundamentally altered the character of this nation.”
“The core values of this nation... our standing in the world... our very democracy... everything that has made America — America — is at stake,” he wrote in the post.
“That’s why today I’m announcing my candidacy for President of the United States.”
Even before his official announcement, Biden, who served eight years as Barack Obama’s vice president, led most surveys of Democratic voters.
The RealClearPolitics poll aggregate puts him as favorite with 29.3 percent support, followed by independent Senator Bernie Sanders at 23 percent.