July 14th, 2011
08:00 AM ET

Report: War-related civilian deaths up in Afghanistan

(CNN) - The use of powerful improvised explosive devices - IEDs - by militants in Afghanistan has caused a "dramatic" hike in "conflict-related civilian deaths" in the first half of the year, the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said in a report Thursday.

The war-weary nation "experienced a 15 per cent increase" mainly because of "the use of landmine-like pressure plate improvised explosive devices by anti-government elements," according to the UNAMA's Mid-year Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict.

There were 444 victims of IEDS, "the single largest killer of Afghan civilians in the first half of 2011," the cause of 30% of all civilian killings.

"Afghan children, women and men continue to be killed and injured at an alarming rate," said Staffan de Mistura, special representative for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

UNAMA counted 1,462 civilian deaths in the period, with 80% attributed to anti-government elements. That's an increase of 28% in civilian deaths linked to militants from the same period last year.

The report attributed 14% of civilians deaths to pro-government forces, down 9% from the same period last year. The report said 6% of civilian deaths were not tied "to any party in the conflict."

There were 368 civilian deaths in May, the deadliest month for civilians since UNAMA started documenting civilian casualties in 2007. In June, 360 deaths were documented, 308 of which were tied to "anti-government elements."

Also in June, there was an "all-time high in the number of security incidents in a single month" and the highest-ever number of IED attacks recorded in a month.

The report, which labels militant forces anti-government elements, said the violence jumped as security responsibility transitioned from international to Afghan troops in different parts of the country.

"Combined with the efforts of various armed groups to undermine peace and reconciliation and intensified fighting between the conflicting parties, Afghans experienced a decrease in protection," the report said.

The report cited a "shift in anti-government tactics" that worsened the problem.

"In 2011, Anti-Government Elements expanded their use of unlawful means of warfare, particularly victim-activated pressure plate IEDs that act like anti-personnel landmines and cannot distinguish between a military target and a civilian," said Georgette Gagnon, director of Human Rights for UNAMA.

"This tactic violates Afghans' basic right to life and contravenes the international humanitarian law principles that all parties to the conflict are bound to uphold to minimize civilian loss of life and injury."

UNAMA notes that "two-thirds of all IEDs used in Afghanistan, and the vast majority that kill civilians, are designed to be triggered by a weight of between 10-100 kilograms," the weight of a human and in many cases the weight of a child.

"Any civilian who steps on or drives over these IEDs has no defense against them and little chance of survival," said Gagnon. "Any use by Taliban members of these pressure-plate IEDs violates the 1998 Taliban ban on any type of landmines. UNAMA calls on the Taliban to publicly reiterate a ban on these."

IEDs and suicide attacks accounted for nearly half of all civilian deaths and injuries in the first six months of 2011. Civilian deaths caused by IEDs rose 17% over the same period in 2010.

As for deaths by pro-government forces, airstrikes by NATO's International Security Assistance Force remained are the leading cause of death, with an "increasing proportion resulting from attacks by helicopters." Seventy-nine Afghan civilians died in airstrikes, a 14% increase compared to the previous year.

The number of targeted killings by anti-government forces was 191, up from 181 last year.

UNAMA called for anti-government elements to employ the "meaning of 'civilian' that is consistent and in compliance with their obligations under international humanitarian law." Civilians are people who aren't combatants or "members of organized armed groups of a party to the armed conflict," it said.

UNAMA had recommendations for all parties.

It urged "anti-government elements" to stop using the pressure-plate IEDs, stop attacks on hospitals, develop codes of conduct that prompt its members to prevent civilian casualties.

The agency called for international military forces to investigate why civilian casualties from helicopters are going up, review its night raids directive, and make sure that forces are properly trained in "escalation of force procedures."

It urged the Afghan government to investigate and properly track civilian casualties in order to "provide lessons learned and to improve civilian protection, compensation, and accountability."

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Filed under: Civilian deaths
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. salerno

    FORTUNATELY OTHER 10 US-NATO CRIMINALS WERE TAKEN OUT THIS WEAK END IN AFGHANISTAN.

    July 17, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  2. Loyalist

    Criminal law

    Within law, the principle of proportional justice is used to describe the idea that the punishment of a certain crime should be in proportion to the severity of the crime itself. In practice, systems of law differ greatly on the application of this principle. In some systems, this was interpreted as lex talionis, (an eye for an eye). In others, it has led to a more restrictive manner of sentencing. For example, all European Union countries have accepted as a treaty obligation that no crime warrants the death penalty, whereas other countries in the world do use it.

    International law

    The incidental (i.e., unintended) harm caused to civilians or civilian property must be proportionate and not excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated by an attack on a military objective.

    July 16, 2011 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      Loyalist – you are a big stupid. The international law is subjected to interpretation and it is just a tool used by the US to do what they want. Indeed no international court has jurisdiction above the US military, so they can do what they want and falsifie the news.

      July 17, 2011 at 6:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Loyalist

      The law of war lays out certain structures, facilities as off-limits, such as medical facilities, religious shrines and so on. If a combatant uses one of these protected sites for military purposes – as an observation post, as a firing point, as a storage facility for weapons – then it does become a legitimate military target.

      July 17, 2011 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        LOYALIST -IDIOT – THE LAW OF WAR HAS NO VALUE AS USA DID NOT ALLOW ANY INTERNATIONAL COURT TO TRIAL HIS MILITARY.

        July 17, 2011 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Mikey

      See the ROME STATUTE of the International Criminal Court

      July 17, 2011 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  3. Dan from Chicago, IL

    AND IN THE END GOD WILL SURELY PUT YOU ALL WHERE YOU BELONG, HELL!

    July 14, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. in time

    The underlying question here is not whether the U.S.A. are the criminals and the Terroists. The true question is whether or not either sides` actions are justifyable. Forever will us Americans mourn the death of so many lives taken on the 11th of Sept. Vice/versa so many of these terrorists will mourn the deaths of their counrty men and women before that unforgetable day. So to those who have their opinions which side are you really on when you learn the truth and art of war. To whichever side your opinions lay, what have you done to substantiate your views. Verily voicing them is a tire to ones breath, so I emplore where`s your action, in which you justify your thoughts. All of you who`ve commented are in a sense true then again you reek of ignorance, I just have been reassured that often becomes humanities bliss.

    July 14, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan from Detroit, MI

      What the people in the right-wing news media never talk about is the obscene butchery perpetrated by those rotten cowards operating those ungodly drones by remote control from some air conditioned office somewhere in the U.S. and about 70% of the people who die as a consequence thereof are civilians! How's that for the truth?

      July 14, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        The drones are a coward tactic and the true evil. Even before 9/11 and the the drones, USA killed civilians using aircraft and cluster bombs in Lebanon, Libya, Iraq, Sudan, Serbia, Afghanistan. No wonder they had 9/11 and more to come.

        July 14, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
      • Aaron L.

        That's not true about civillians. You have to go through boot camp and training, to fly drones. and If you do kill civillians, you get court marshalled. And I hear that's not fun. Murder is murder. So think before you open your fat mouth.

        July 14, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        Aaron – Court marshalled by US military if you kill civilians ? Don't be ridicoulouse, I am not born last night !

        July 14, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
      • Mikey

        http://www.csmonitor.com/World/terrorism-security/2011/0324/US-soldier-Morlock-sentenced-to-24-years-for-killing-Afghan-civilians

        July 17, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        He was put on trial for disobeying to orders. Criminals condamning other criminals. Not a big deal.

        July 18, 2011 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan from Chicago, IL

      WHEN A PEOPLE DECLARE WAR ON A COUNTRY THEN WAR IS WHAT THEY GET!

      July 15, 2011 at 7:04 am | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        This is why the americans are been targeted around the world. 17 killed in Iraq, 4 in Somalia, 2 kidnapped in Philippines, 2 killed in Germany, let alone Afghanistan.

        July 15, 2011 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
  5. donnamarinchekmarn01

    This is Old News....Something should have been done about this Ongoing problem.Transporting Illegal,Over Powered Weapons......Is always a Problem within the Military.The Problem i have,are these Young Women and Men,who inlist to Fight for their Country......Not to become...Illegal Weapons Dealers,Drug Dealers,Rapist...Ect,Ect,Ect.
    When you set the Example of Perfect....They Follow...those Footsteps,And if Not....Then they are dealt with Accordingly.I have never seen so much Illegal Porformance by so many........Within the Washington Dc.White House.

    July 14, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. luis aka leather neck

    THE TALIBAN ARE MORE COWARDS THEN THE IRAQI INSURGENTS IF THEY WERE NOT SO SCARED OF OUR ARMY AND MARINES THEN STEP UP TO THE MUTHA FRICKEN PLATE AND SHOW US WHAT YOU ARE I KNOW FOR THE SIMPLE FACT THEY CANT GET THEIR HARD ON TO WOMAN BUT THEY GET EXITED WATCHING GOATS AND SHEEP SCREW LIKE A LIGHT BULP WAMP WAMP WHAT IT .....DO

    July 14, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aaron L.

      lol, yea they're imbred cowards funded by the Pakistan government. So are the groups that blow themselves up in India. India likes us, it would be smart to cut off funds for Pakistan before we ruin a good thing.

      July 14, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        Aaron – you are not well informed. Pakistan government is fighting the Taliban, not funding them.

        July 14, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. luis aka leather neck

    IF WE DIDNT CARE FOR EM. KILL EM ALL AND LET GOD SORT EM OUT THEN WHOS THE BAD GUY US OR THE FRAKEN TALIBAN THINK FOR A MIN IF YOUR NOT WITH US YOUR AGAINST US AND YOU KNOW WHAT COULD OR CAN HAPPEN TO TERRORIST SUPPORTERS ......GITMO YOU GO.. SALERNO SHOULD TURN HIMSELF TO THE C.I.A. AND THEN WE WILL SEE IF HIS STUPID JACK A++ HAS SOMTHING SMART TO SAY ABOUT THE U.S.A REMEMBER REMEMBER THE 11TH OF SEPTEMBER..

    July 14, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan from Detroit, MI

      Not surprising coming from someone like you with your obvious limitations! Such hatred and ignorance.

      July 14, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
      • George Patton

        Sorry Dan, as ignorant as this bozo above is, he still has a right to his opinion no matter how repulsive we may find it. I know that CNN differs from that as they sometimes block my comments here.

        July 14, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dan from Chicago, IL

        What Dan is your love for evil and terror greater than America's love for peace, freedom and liberty for all people?

        July 15, 2011 at 7:11 am | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        American love for peace is hilarious ! May be you mean oil power and money !

        July 15, 2011 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
  8. salerno

    UNAMA report is false as they are controlled by US government, even if many do not realize that. USA are responsible for all civilian casualties as they are the invaders. Taliban prohibited the use of mines, but after the invasion they have no choice but to use IED as they have no other way to contrast the invasion. The number of civilian casualties caused by the US-Nato military is severely understated for political reasons. Many civilians are considered insurgents to reach that goal.
    Notwithstanding the high technology weapons the US are killing mostly civilians. This is why after 10 years the war is not over.

    July 14, 2011 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
    • JJ

      Salerno – I'm sorry but you have no clue what you are talking about. How could the US be responsible for all civilian casualties when the Taliban targets civilians? The reason the war is not over is because we are trying not to kill civilians and are trying to help them rebuild. It makes for a long process doing it that way. Believe me if we didn't care about civilian lives we could end this thing rather quickly.

      July 14, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        The USA are responsible as they are the intruders causing the war and the response by the Taliban and their allies.
        I agree that you could kill the civilians even faster, but it is not in your interests.

        July 14, 2011 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
      • Dan from Chicago, IL

        Tell me salerno who are the Taliban's allies? There ARE many more Afghans that wish the Taliban would stop their attacks and join in creating a peaceful and stable country! And for your information there was civil unrest between the Taliban and other afghans long before America held the Taliban just as accountable for 9/11 because of their harboring al Qaeda!

        July 14, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        Taliban allies are non-Taliban Afghan tribes fighting against the USA. Taliban defended Afghanistan and many afghans are not against them. USA spread a lot of false news about the Taliban.

        July 14, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dan from Chicago, IL

        YOU ARE AS SICK AS THE TALIBAN AND THEIR TERRORIST ALLIES! THE ONLY REASON THAT SOME AFGHANS MIGHT SUPPORT THE TALIBAN IS BECAUSE OF THEIR TERROR AGAINST THEM SICKO!

        July 14, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        NO- MANY AFGHANS SUPPORT TALIBAN BECAUSE THEY DO NOT KILL AFGHAN PEOPLE LIKE THE US-NATO MILITARY IS DOING. THEY ARE NOT INFLUENCED BY US PROPAGANDA.

        July 15, 2011 at 3:17 am | Report abuse |
      • Dan from Chicago, IL

        Are you trying to tell me that the Taliban are peace loving people? YOUR PROPAGANDA IS SICK! THEY HAVE KILLED MANY MORE CIVILIANS OF AFGHANISTAN EVEN BEFORE THE WAR AGAINST THEIR SICK IDEOLOGY!

        July 15, 2011 at 7:17 am | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        Taliban fought a war against the Northern alliance and of course they killed each other.

        July 15, 2011 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |