KABUL (Al Jazeera) – Nearly 2,400 Afghan civilians have been killed or injured in May and June as fighting between the Taliban and Afghan security forces escalated, the highest number for those two months since records started in 2009, the United Nations said on Monday.
The UN’s Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a report it had documented 5,183 civilian casualties between January and June, of which 1,659 were deaths. The number was up 47 percent from the same period last year.
The figures underscored the dire situation for Afghan civilians as intense fighting picked up in May and June.
“I implore the Taliban and Afghan leaders to take heed of the conflict’s grim and chilling trajectory and its devastating impact on civilians,” said Deborah Lyons, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan.
“The report provides a clear warning that unprecedented numbers of Afghan civilians will perish and be maimed this year if the increasing violence is not stemmed,” Lyons added in a UNAMA statement accompanying the report.
The UN warned that without “a significant de-escalation in violence” the country is on course in 2021 to record the highest ever number of civilian casualties in a single year.
“Of serious concern is the acute rise in the number of civilians killed and injured in the period from 1 May, with almost as many civilian casualties in the May-June period as recorded in the entire preceding four months,” UNAMA said in the statement.
Heavy clashes around the country have taken place in the past two months as the Taliban launched major offensives, taking rural districts, border crossings and surrounding provincial capitals.
UNAMA alleged that Afghan troops and pro-government forces were responsible for a quarter of all civilian casualties. It blamed anti-government elements for 64 percent of civilian casualties -- including some 40 percent caused by the Taliban and nearly nine percent by the Daesh terrorists.
About 16 percent of casualties were caused by “undetermined” anti-government elements, it added.