More insecurity, civilian casualties in Afghanistan: U.N.

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 28, 2011 10:19 AM
More insecurity, civilian casualties in Afghanistan: U.N.

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan has become more insecure in 2011 from a year ago, with a sharp rise in security incidents and higher numbers of civilian casualties, displaced people and complex suicide attacks, a U.N report said on Wednesday.

The total number of security incidents recorded during the first eight months of the year represented a nearly 40 percent rise from the same period of 2010.

And while most violence -- about two-thirds -- was concentrated in the country's south and southeast, suicide attacks became more common outside that area, with the central region accounting for one in five.

The number of complex suicide attacks also jumped by half in the year to date, compared with a year earlier, and made up a greater portion of all suicide attacks.

Civilian casualties, already at record levels for the first half of the year, rose 5 percent in the June-August period compared with last year, with insurgents linked to three quarters of those deaths and injuries.

The report to the U.N. Security Council by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlights the challenges facing Afghanistan's troubled government and the NATO-led coalition, which started its gradual handover of security responsibility to Afghan police and the army in July.

The report said the transition areas, which included Bamiyan and Panjshir provinces and southern Lashkar Gah city "continue to face a resilient insurgency that is attempting to challenge the capacity of the Afghan forces."

A total of 1,841 civilian deaths and injuries were recorded from June to August, of which 282, or 12 percent, were attributed to Afghan or foreign forces.

Air strikes were the leading cause of deaths by coalition forces, killing 38 civilians in July, the highest number recorded for any month since February 2010.

The coalition does not regularly publish details of civilian casualties and declined immediate comment on the U.N.'s figures.

The coalition does not regularly publish details of civilian casualties and declined immediate comment on the U.N.'s figures.

The overall rise in civilian casualties was attributed to increased use by insurgents of home-made bombs and suicide attacks, which accounted for 45 percent of deaths and injuries.

The use of such devices in attacks across Afghanistan had nearly doubled compared with the June-August period last year.

DISPLACEMENT, HUNGER

Higher levels of insecurity were accompanied by a rise in the number of internal refugees, with around 130,000 people abandoning their homes in the first seven months of the year, up nearly two-thirds from the same period a year earlier.

The U.N.'s assessment of humanitarian needs suggested as many as 1.3 million Afghans may require food assistance in the next 10 months as a result of the conflict and "drought-like conditions" after a year with low rainfall.

It also noted a 65 percent increase in eradication of opium poppy fields in 2011 from a year earlier, although it said the attacks on eradication teams had sharply increased, with 48 such incidents this year, compared with 12 in 2012.

(Reporting by Martin Petty Editing by Emma Graham-Harrison and Ed Lane)