The number of civilians casualties in the Afghan conflict has risen for the fifth year in a row, according to the annual report of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), which documents 3,021 civilian deaths in 2011 compared with 2,790 in 2010 and 2,412 in 2009. Most deaths were caused by insurgents, the report said, finding that improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were being used more widely and suicide attacks had become deadlier. However, it also said the civilian toll from air strikes in support of the Afghan government rose in 2011. The 2011 “Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict” said a total of 11,864 civilian lives had been claimed by the conflict since 2007.
In 2011, “anti-government elements” were blamed for 2,332 or 77% of civilians killed—up 14% from 2010. There were 410 civilian deaths (14%) that resulted from the operations of pro-government forces, a fall of 4% from 2010. Another 279 civilian deaths (9%) could not be attributed to either side in the conflict. IEDs were found to be the single largest killer of Afghan civilians, taking the lives of 967, or nearly one in three (32%) of all civilians killed in the conflict. The report said 187 civilian deaths were attributed to air attacks, an increase of 9% over 2010. The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is due to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014, handing over security to Afghan forces. (BBC News, Feb. 4)
UNAMA and the Afghanistan Rights Monitor both keep track of civilian deaths, reaching slightly different findings.