A record number of civilians were killed in Afghanistan last year according to a UN report, which blames an increase in suicide bombings by and airstrikes by US-led coalition forces.
In its annual report published on Sunday, the UN assistance mission in (UNAMA) said 3,804 civilians were killed in 2018, the highest toll since it began compiling figures in 2009. Another 7,189 were wounded.
The report comes as the US peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, intensifies to the 17-year war. Khalilzad, who was appointed in September, is to begin another round of talks with the Taliban on Monday in Qatar, where the group maintains a political office.
The UN envoy, Tadamichi Yamamoto, called the increase in civilian casualties “deeply disturbing and wholly unacceptable”. Hundreds of thousands of Afghans have also been displaced by the conflict, both within and beyond the country’s borders.
The reports blames insurgents for 63% of civilian deaths and injuries in 2018. It says the were responsible for 37%, Isis 20%, and other armed groups 6%.
The government and its US and allies were blamed for 24%, a significant increase on 2017, with many the result of increased airstrikes.
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“For the first time since 2009 when it began systematically documenting civilian casualty figures, UNAMA recorded more than 1,000 civilian casualties from aerial operations,” the report said.
The says it carried out 6,823 airstrikes in 2018, the highest figure in six years.
More than 32,000 civilians have been killed and 60,000 wounded since the UN began compiling figures 10 years ago.
“It is time to put an end to this human misery and tragedy,” said Yamamoto. “The best way to halt the killing and maiming of civilians is to stop the fighting. That is why there is all the more need now to use all our efforts to bring about peace.”
The US and the Taliban have openly embraced a strategy of talking while fighting, with the Taliban carrying out .
Afghan forces are fighting the Taliban throughout the country with support from their US-led allies. They have also been attacking Isis positions, particularly in eastern Afghanistan, where the group is based.