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Civilian Deaths in Afghanistan at Record High

Civilian Deaths in Afghanistan at Record HighCivilian Deaths in Afghanistan at Record High

The civilian death toll in Afghanistan, some 16 years into the US-led invasion and occupation, continues to rise precipitously, with the most recent figures out of the United Nations showing 1,662 civilians killed in the first half of 2017, the highest civilian toll of the entire war.

Officials had expressed hope civilian deaths had more or less leveled off, when the first half of 2016, the previous record, gave way to a roughly identical figure in the second half. Increased airstrikes and some major suicide bombings drove another increase, however, Antiwar reported.

The civilian toll was particularly grave for women and children, with casualties among women up 23% and 9% among children. This was exemplified by an early February US airstrike in Sangn District, which killed 26 civilians.

A drastic increase in aerial missions predictably caused more fatalities among Afghan civilians. A Monday report released by the UN’s mission to Afghanistan said the death toll began to climb due to the coalition bombings during the first half of 2017.

In June, President Donald Trump authorized the Pentagon, headed by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, to set the number of US forces in Afghanistan. Mattis reportedly plans to deploy an additional 4,000 troops to the war-torn country, signaling the largest troop increase since Trump took office.

“Each one of these casualty figures reflects a broken family, unimaginable trauma and suffering, and the brutal violation of people’s human rights,”  Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement.

“Many Afghan civilians are suffering psychological trauma, having lost family and friends, and are living in fear knowing the risks they face as they go about their daily lives. Many more have been forced from their homes and suffered lasting damage to their health, education and livelihoods. The continuing national tragedy of Afghanistan must not be overlooked,” Al Hussein said.

Caption: A US Air Force F-16 Falcon fighter bomber (File Photo)

 

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