Civilian casualties double in north this year: AIHRC


BALKH: Voicing its concern regarding the grave repercussions for Afghan citizens, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) says civilian casualties and raging violence have unprecedentedly increased in the northern region of the country while.

Qazi Sayed Mohammad Samay, in-charge of AIHRC for northern provinces of Afghanistan, at a ceremony marking the International Human Rights Day in Mazar-e-Sharif city, the provincial capital, lamented the increased civilian losses, stating 205 citizens had suffered casualties in Balkh, Samangan, Sar-e-Pul and Jawzjan provinces in 2019.

Based on AIHRC’s report for the north, the death toll jumped to more than double – 422 in the mentioned areas in 2020 – something he deemed as a matter of serious distress.  

Samay said that 47 people were killed, including 13 children, 14 women and 20 men, while 158 others were wounded, including 39 children, 23 women, 80 men. This is while 16 others with unconfirmed gender also received injuries in 2019.

In 2020, he said that of total 422 civilian casualties, 132 people – 46 children, 17 women and 69 men – were killed and another 290, 77 children, 35 women and 132 men, were wounded.

He said that all the northern zone casualties were due to the ongoing war and relentless conflicts — all registered by the AIHRC.

When asked about the perpetrators of civilian losses, Samay did not provide information.

Several civil society and human rights activists in the north are also worried about intensified violence and civilian losses in their regions.

Sayed Abdul Hamid Safoot, head of the Civil Society Association in Balkh, said that the current situation of the country and increased casualty levels had worried the ordinary masses.  “We demand that when warring sides target public facilities, civilians shouldn’t be a military target.”

Kubra Baloch, a human rights activist in Balkh, criticized high civilian losses, saying the ongoing peace negotiations would not produce any good results unless a ceasefire was declared. She said that being engaged in peace talks while waging violence at the same time was not rational.

A number of families of war victims who attended the program called for an armistice between the warring sides and an end to the conflict in Afghanistan.