The United Nations announced it has recorded a significant number of civilians killed and wounded in attacks in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover – despite a stark reduction in casualties compared with previous years of war and armed conflicts.
In a report released on Tuesday, the UN’s mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) said 1,095 civilians were killed and 2,679 wounded between August 15, 2021, and May this year.
The majority of deaths – just over 700 – were caused by improvised explosive devices, including suicide bombings in public places such as mosques, education centres and markets.
Though armed fighting has fallen dramatically since the Taliban took over as the NATO-backed military collapsed, security challenges remain, particularly from ISIL (ISIS or Daesh), the UN report added.
The Taliban was responsible for the majority of attacks, according to the UNAMA, which also noted that the deadliness of attacks had escalated despite fewer violent incidents.
“UNAMA’s figures highlight not only the ongoing civilian harm resulting from such attacks, but an increase in the lethality of suicide attacks since 15 August 2021, with a smaller number of attacks causing a greater number of civilian casualties,” said the report.
More than 1,700 casualties, including injuries, were attributed to explosive attacks claimed by ISIL, according to UNAMA.
The ruling Taliban says it is focused on securing the country and has carried out several raids against ISIL cells in recent months.
In response to the UN report, the Taliban-run foreign ministry said Afghanistan had faced security challenges during the war for decades before its government, known as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, took over and the situation had improved.
“Security forces of the Islamic Emirate oblige themselves to ensure security of the citizens and take timely action on uprooting the safe havens of the terrorists,” it said.
The UN report also noted that the attacks were carried out amid a nationwide financial and economic crisis.
With a sharp drop in donor funding since the takeover, Afghans are struggling to get access to “medical, financial and psychosocial support” under the current Taliban-led government, the report said.
Despite initial promises in 2021 of a more moderate administration, the Taliban enforced harsh rules after seizing the country. It banned girls’ education after the sixth grade and barred Afghan women from public life and most work, including for non-governmental organisations and the UN.
The measures harked back to the previous Taliban rule of Afghanistan in the late 1990s, when it also imposed its strict interpretation of Islamic laws.
The Taliban administration has not been officially recognised by the UN and the international community.