KABUL: Violence increased in Afghanistan in the weeks after the United States and the Taliban signed an agreement that is supposed to pave the way for a peace process, a UN agency said on Monday.
In total, the fighting in the first three months caused 1,293 civilian casualties, of which 760 were wounded and the rest died, including 152 children and 60 women, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a quarterly report. .
Afghans had enjoyed a period of relative calm before the Feb. 29 deal, but the conflict resumed almost as soon as the deal was signed, and the militant group has since rejected multiple calls for a ceasefire during the month. Ramazan temple.
"The report tracks a disturbing surge in violence during March at a time when the Afghan and Taliban governments were expected to begin peace negotiations, as well as looking for ways to defuse the conflict and prioritize efforts to protect all Afghans from the impact. " of Covid-19 ”, said UNAMA.
Taliban Reject Figures, Say Report "Hides Daily Crimes" Committed by Government and US Forces
The number of civilian deaths caused by anti-government forces, especially the Taliban, increased by more than 20 percent compared to the first quarter of 2019, UNAMA said.
Selective killings, summary executions and kidnappings of civilians also increased, he said.
Despite that, the number of victims in the first three months of this year was the lowest since 2012. The period included a reduction in violence that led to the signing of the pact.
While the number of victims increased in March, UNAMA noted that the total number of victims in the first quarter of 2020 decreased 29% from the previous year, thanks to a pause in fighting in January and February, including a partial truce a week, like the United States. and Taliban negotiators settled the withdrawal agreement.
Under the agreement, US and other foreign forces have pledged to leave Afghanistan in July 2021, provided the Taliban comply with various security guarantees and hold talks with the government.
However, the fight skyrocketed in March when the Afghan government and the Taliban discussed a series of problems, preventing negotiations between the two from opening.
Deborah Lyons, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, reiterated calls for a ceasefire, which the Taliban have rejected in recent days.
"To safeguard the lives of countless civilians in Afghanistan and give the nation hope for a better future, it is imperative that the violence be stopped with the establishment of a ceasefire and that peace negotiations begin," said Lyons.
Efforts toward formal peace talks have waned as the Taliban attack government forces, despite warnings from the United States that they need to reduce violence, as well as disagreements over the release of prisoners.
A political dispute within the Afghan government, between the president and his main rival after a disputed election, has also diverted attention from the peace effort.
The Taliban rejected the figures, claiming that the report "hides the daily crimes" committed by the government and US forces.
A Taliban spokesman said they had a commission to prevent civilian casualties that had reduced them to "almost zero." However, UNAMA noted that pro-government forces were responsible for more than twice the deaths of children than insurgents in the first quarter, mainly due to airstrikes and shelling.
Recent attacks have been mainly limited to rural areas and small towns.
Under the agreement between the United States and the Taliban, insurgents agreed not to attack cities.
The publication of the UN report comes hours after the US special envoy. USA Who brokered a deal with the Taliban called on militants to implement a humanitarian ceasefire as Afghanistan tries to tackle its worsening coronavirus crisis.
Posted in Dawn, April 28, 2020