KABUL – The number of civilians killed or wounded in Afghanistan in 2015 was the highest recorded since 2009, the United Nations said Sunday, with children paying a particularly heavy toll as struggling Afghan forces faced a militant surge.
There were 11,002 civilian casualties in 2015, 3,545 of them deaths, the U.N. said in the annual report on civilians in armed conflict, a 4 percent rise over the previous high in 2014.
“The harm done to civilians is totally unacceptable,” said Nicholas Haysom, the U.N.’s special representative for Afghanistan.
“We call on those inflicting this pain on the people of Afghanistan to take concrete action to protect civilians and put a stop to the killing and maiming.”
Fighting and attacks in populated areas and major cities were described as the “main causes” of civilian deaths in 2015, underscoring a push by Taliban militants into urban centers, culminating in their brief takeover of northern provincial capital Kunduz in September and October.
One in every four casualties was a child, with the report documenting a 14 percent increase in child casualties over the year.
Women also paid a heavy price, with a 37 percent surge in female casualties. One in every ten casualties recorded was a woman, the report said.
The UN began compiling the annual report in 2009.