Deteriorating security across Afghanistan in the past four years led to over 14,000 “grave violations” against children, including nearly 3,500 youngsters killed and over 9,000 injured, according to a UN report circulated Thursday.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned “the alarming level” of grave violations committed by all parties and the fact that children “continue to bear the brunt of the armed conflict.”
Of serious concern, he said, is that the nearly 12,600 children verified to have been killed or injured in 2015-2018 represented almost a third of all civilian casualties, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
That was “an increase of 82 percent in child casualties compared with the previous four years,” he wrote.
Guterres said in his fourth report on children and armed conflict in Afghanistan that the rise was traced to “an increase in child casualties resulting from ground engagements, explosive remnants of war and aerial attacks.”
The UN chief said he is “extremely concerned,” especially by the number of children killed and injured as a result of “aerial operations conducted by government and pro-government forces.”
According to the report, child casualties from airstrikes “have significantly increased since 2015,” reversing the downward trend of the four preceding years.
Guterres said armed groups were responsible for 43% of child casualties _ 3,450 killed and 9,149 injured.
While Taliban militants were responsible for the majority, the number attributed to ISIS terrorist group increased overall during the four-year period.
Government and pro-government forces were responsible for 30% of child casualties, he said.
According to AP, Guterres noted that rape and other forms of sexual violence against children “is known to be underreported as a result of prevailing social norms, fear of retaliation and impunity.”