The number of children killed in Afghanistan's conflict rose by 25 percent in 2016, according to the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan.
The 2016 Annual Report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in Afghanistan, released on Monday, documents an overall 3-percent rise in civilian casualties — both deaths and injuries — from the previous year.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) attributed the disproportionate spike in child casualties in 2016 mainly to a 66-percent increase in casualties from left-over or discarded munitions. The report states that 923 children in Afghanistan were killed in 2016, a 25-percent increase from the previous year. The number of children injured rose by about 23 percent. Overall it was the highest number of casualties among children ever recorded in a single year by UNAMA.
"Conflict-related violence exacted a heavy toll on Afghanistan in 2016, with an overall deterioration in civilian protection and the highest-total civilian casualties recorded since 2009, when UNAMA began systematic documentation of civilian casualties," the report stated.
It says that between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2016, the mission documented 11,418 civilian casualties — 3,498 deaths and 7,920 wounded. That marked a 2-percent decrease in civilian deaths and a 6-percent increase in civilians wounded, amounting to an overall 3-percent increase in casualties compared to 2015.
"This appalling conflict destroys lives and tears communities apart in every corner of Afghanistan," the report quoted Tadamichi Yamamoto, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, as saying. "Real protection of civilians requires commitment and demonstrated concrete actions to protect civilians from harm and for parties to the conflict to ensure accountability for indiscriminate and deliberate acts of civilian harm."