Conflict Alerts # 134, 29 July 2020
In the news
On 27 July UNAMA released a new report documenting 3458 civilian casualties with 1282 killed and 2176 injured in the first half of the year. The report highlights no reduction in civilian casualties caused by the Taliban and Afghan national security forces and the country is noted as the deadliest in the world.
Provinces like Balk and Kabul was the most affected with 344 civilian casualties and 338 respectively, followed by Nangahar with 281, and Faryab and Kunduz with 233 and 205 civilians' casualties. UNAMA has shown concern over the women and children casualties which comprised 40 per cent of the civilian casualties. It also encourages the Government to pass the law on the protection of child rights.
Though the civilian casualties have decreased by 13 per cent compared to last year, the report states this was due to a drop in civilian casualties attributed to the international military forces. UNAMA also suggested, to bring an end to the violence and strive for a negotiated political settlement.
Issues at large
First, the continuing violence. Though the Taliban and Afghanistan government agreed upon ceasefire twice since February for brief intervals, violence has continued in the country. The anti-government forces led to 58 per cent civilian casualties whereas pro-government forces were responsible for 28 per cent of all civilian casualties. Further, differences over prisoner swap have delayed intra-afghan talks
Second, the pandemic. According to the UNAMA report, there have been 36 incidents affecting the healthcare workforce in 27 direct and nine indirect attacks. The conflicts have resulted in physical, emotional, and psychological victimization of families. These increasing attacks have severely comprised the right to the attainable standard of physical and mental health in the country. Attacks on healthcare workers and facilities, during the pandemic, has further weakened the health care system. It has also led to a decrease in the recovery rate of victims.
Third, the recruitment of children to carry out attacks. As per the report, in the first half of 2020, 23 children were recruited and trained by the Taliban to carry out attacks against the Afghan national security forces, including the suicide attacks. Moreover, closure of schools, institutions and economic hardships, due to the pandemic, have forced the children to earn, thus making them more susceptible to recruitment.
First, violence continues in different parts of Afghanistan even after the US-Taliban deal. The upcoming intra-afghan talks may be the only hope for Afghanistan, for reducing violence in the country.
Second, the Taliban may be using prolonged violence to intimidate the people and Government to get an upper hand in the intra-afghan talks.