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Over 1,300 Afghans killed in 1st half of 2019: UN mission


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Kabul:  Afghan civilians continue to bear the brunt of armed conflict as 1,366 of them were killed and 2,446 injured in the first half of 2019, a UN mission said on Tuesday.

The latest figures from the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), released in the report, showed a 27 per cent drop in casualties for the first half of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018, which was a record.

While the UN welcomed the drop in civilian casualties from January 1 to June 30 this year, it "continues to regard the level of harm done to civilians as shocking and unacceptable," UNAMA said in a statement.

"Everyone heard the message loud and clear from Afghan delegates in the Doha talks, 'reduce civilian casualties to zero!'" Tadamichi Yamamoto, special UN envoy and head of UNAMA, was quoted in the statement as saying.

"We urge all parties to heed this imperative, to answer the call of Afghans for immediate steps to be taken to reduce the terrible harm being inflicted," he said.

The report said ground engagements caused the most civilian casualties in the first six months of 2019, causing one-third of the overall total, followed by the use of improvised explosive devices and air strikes.

The mission attributed 52 per cent of the civilian casualties to the Taliban and other insurgent groups and 37 per cent to security forces over the period while the rest were unattributed or caused by other reasons. 

According to the UNAMA, women continue to be "disproportionately" impacted by the armed conflict in Afghanistan, which caused the deaths of 144 women and injured 286. 

Child casualties comprised nearly one-third of the overall civilian casualties, with 327 deaths and 880 injured.

US special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad is expected to return to Qatar next week for an eighth round of direct talks with Taliban negotiators.

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News Summary - Over 1,300 Afghans killed in 1st half of 2019: UN mission
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