A UN report has laid out the “terrible suffering endured by Afghan citizens” throughout 2020, despite peace talks taking place, leaving the country as one of the “deadliest places in the world” for a civilian.
While figures state that the total number of civilian casualties in 2020 (8,820) was 15 percent lower than the previous year, the data shows that there was a significant spike in civilian casualties in the final three months of the year, after peace talks began in the country.
The international body sees the continued violence as the devastating consequence of “parties refusing to consider a ceasefire,” using the report to issue a renewed call for a break in the fighting to allow peace talks to proceed uninterrupted.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet warned that the statistics show that Afghanistan still “remains among the deadliest places in the world to be a civilian.”
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This report marks the first time since the UN began documenting the violence that civilian casualties have spiked in the final few months of the year, as figures rose 45 percent during the fourth quarter of 2020, compared with the same time period in 2019.
“This report documents the terrible suffering endured by Afghan civilians in 2020, a year that could have moved Afghanistan closer towards peace,” UN Special Representative for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons said in a statement.
However, the Taliban issued a response on Tuesday that refuted the findings of the report, arguing that it failed to take into account “the concerns, precise information and accurate details” that were shared by the group.
Peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban started in Qatar in September 2020, marking the first time that the militant group and government officials have held direct talks.
The United States has played a key role in brokering the peace talks and, in February 2020, a deal was signed between the Trump administration and the Taliban agreeing to bring peace to the region and end almost two decades of war. The deal would see America withdraw troops from the region within 14 months and the Taliban cut ties with Al-Qaeda and work to prevent other militant extremists from seizing control of territory.
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