Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday sounded the alarm on the increased number of security incidents in Afghanistan where civilians, mainly women and children, are the fallen victims.
In his most recent quarterly report to the Security Council on the activities of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and updating key political and security developments, Ban said the number of security incidents in that country was “51 per cent higher than in the same period in 2010”.
The report came out one day after Taliban elements attacked Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel late Tuesday. Twenty people, including the attackers, were killed.
The majority of incidents, Ban explained, involved armed clashes and improvised explosive devices. “Suicide attacks have increased significantly since March 2011, with 17 suicide attacks in April, including five complex attacks, a higher number than any month in 2010,” he noted.
Abductions and assassinations of Afghan citizens also rose during the reporting period, he said. The city of Kandahar and its surroundings registered the majority of the incidents during the reporting period, with a quarter of the overall attacks and more than half of all assassinations recorded countrywide.
Despite the Taliban’s public statements that the offensive should target exclusively military objectives and ensure the protection of civilians, he indicated, “indiscriminate attacks against civilians continued,” citing as an example the incident on May 21 in which the Taliban claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a national army hospital in Kabul that killed six civilians and injured 23 medical students.
Intimidation, abduction and assassination of civilians associated with the Government and pro-Government forces, Ban indicated, increased too, further violating the human rights of Afghans and slowing governance and development efforts.
“Pro-Government forces continued to use air strikes and night raids to target anti-Government elements, sometimes resulting in civilian casualties and property damage,” he said.
While the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the Government made public apologies and considered compensation claims after such operations, he added, these incidents continued to fuel tensions between pro-Government forces and local communities.
“All concerned must do their utmost to protect civilians and comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law,” he urged.
“Progress towards a political settlement requires a redoubling of effort by all parties to promote mutual confidence and to explore opportunities for peace. It will necessitate, eventually, a demonstrated willingness to engage in a structured dialogue that addresses both confidence-building and substantive issues.
“Such a dialogue, in turn, needs empowered interlocutors and must be part of a wider, inclusive political process. This should be supported by the international community, not least so as to safeguard the hard-earned political gains made by Afghanistan’s democratic institutions,” he added.