Violence against Afghan civilians surged after Taliban-U.S. talks

KABUL — Civilian casualties in Afghanistan escalated sharply after peace talks began last year, the United Nations mentioned in a report launched on Tuesday, calling for a ceasefire as negotiators met for the primary time after weeks of inaction.

U.S.-brokered peace talks started in September however progress has since slowed and violence has risen with uncertainty over whether or not worldwide forces will pull out troops by May as originally planned.

An Afghan man cries beside the coffins of victims of a militant assault in Ghazni metropolis in Afghanistan in November. Rohullah / Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images file

Civilian casualties had been 8,820 in 2020, in accordance with the United Nations’ mission to Afghanistan’s (UNAMA) annual report. That was 15 p.c decrease than the earlier 12 months, however the report’s authors famous with alarm a pointy uptick and traditionally excessive civilian casualties within the remaining three months of 2020, when peace talks started.

Last 12 months “could have been the year of peace in Afghanistan. Instead, thousands of Afghan civilians perished,” mentioned Deborah Lyons, head of UNAMA, reiterating requires a ceasefire which has been repeatedly rejected by the Taliban. “Parties refusing to consider a ceasefire must recognize the devastating consequences.”

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The Taliban on Tuesday issued a response important of the report, saying “the concerns, precise information and accurate details that were shared by us have not been taken into account.”

The report mentioned that for the primary time since information started, deaths and accidents had escalated within the remaining three months of the 12 months from the earlier three months. Casualties for the fourth quarter had been up 45 p.c in contrast with the identical interval in 2019.

The majority had been ascribed to non-government actors, predominately the rebel Taliban, and greater than one-fifth had been attributed to authorities forces.

A authorities spokesman didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

Both sides mentioned on Twitter their chief negotiators met in Doha, the venue for talks, on Monday night, including that groups would proceed work on an agenda.

After a monthlong break over the brand new 12 months interval, negotiators returned to Doha briefly earlier than many senior members of the Taliban left to carry conferences in Russia and Iran. Mujahid mentioned they might maintain additional conferences quickly.

Zabihullah mentioned that the lull was solely a break and the Taliban had been dedicated to talks, with additional conferences anticipated in coming days.

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