Drop in civilian casualties’ masks increased Taliban violence

Behind the Statistics: Drop in civilian casualties’ masks increased Taliban violence

This report draws on two data sets – UNAMA’s third quarterly report of 2020 on the harm suffered by civilians in the Afghan conflict and ACLED’s documenting of incidents of violence, (1) which have been collated and illustrated by data analyst, Roger Helms. The report is also part of ongoing work analysing the Afghan conflict since the United States and Taleban signed their agreement in the Qatari capital, Doha, on 29 February 2020. (2) 

On the face of it, the UNAMA’s Q3 report looks more hopeful than usual. It recorded a 30 per cent drop in the overall number of civilian casualties in the first nine months of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. This was the lowest number for the first nine months of any year since 2012. However, as UNAMA points out, the Afghan war is still one of the most deadly in the world, causing “inordinate and shocking” harm to civilians, so this is a drop from extremely high numbers of civilians killed and injured to still very high numbers. Moreover, the details of the report do not point to hopeful long-term trends. 

Less involvement in the war by US forces and the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP) accounts for most of the reduction in civilian casualties. ISKP caused far fewer casualties in the first nine months of 2020 than in 2019 with a 61 per cent drop from 1,014 (230 killed and 784 injured) in 2019 to 392 (132 killed, 260 injured) in 2019. (The UNAMA report only covers casualties up to the end of September so does not include the most recent atrocity claimed by ISKP, the attack on the Kawsar-e Danish educational center in Dasht-e Barchi in west Kabul on 24 October which killed at least 30 people and injured more than 70, most of them children and young adults attending classes.) 

The US-Taleban agreement of 29 February bound the US to cease offensive action against the Taleban. Since then, UNAMA reports, there has been a “sharp drop” in US airstrikes and civilian casualties caused by international forces have “all but ceased.” 

The third factor bringing down overall civilian’s casualties is that the Taliban have carried out far fewer large-scale urban suicide and complex attacks. This reduced the overall number of civilian casualties attributed by UNAMA to the Taliban by about a third this year compared to last year: 2,643 civilian casualties (1,021 killed, 1,622 injured) in the first nine months of 2020, compared to 3,901 civilian casualties (961 killed and 2,940 injured) in 2019.

It is important to pick apart the Taliban figures, however. Firstly, although the overall civilian casualties are lower, that reduction was brought about by the Taliban injuring fewer civilians in 2020 than in 2019, and they actually killed more civilians (1,021 in 2020 compared to 961 in 2019). Also, it seems that many Taliban attacks have gone undeclared this year. UNAMA found that the number of civilians killed and injured by ‘undetermined’ insurgents increased by half in the first nine months of 2020 compared to 2019 and now represent seven per cent of all civilian casualties. This trend can be seen even more startlingly in the ACLED data, more on which below. Finally, although the number of civilian casualties caused by the Taliban has been lower than last year, this does not reflect any reduction in violent incidents. This year has seen short periods of reduced violence, including over the two Eids and in the eight days leading up to the signing of the 29 February agreement, but overall, there has been a net increase in Taliban attacks.    

The US has repeatedly accused the Taleban of violating a verbal agreement made alongside the written agreement signed in Doha that both sides should substantially reduce violence. The Taleban dispute this, saying the agreement only bound them not to target US forces and left them at liberty to attack government forces and personnel. Just how much the Taliban have been attacking their fellow Afghans this year can be seen in the graph below which uses ACLED data. It shows the Taliban responsible for the bulk of attacks this year, especially since the US-Taliban agreement was signed. 

Six weeks after intra-Afghan talks began in Doha, the Taleban and government teams are still arguing about protocol and what should be on the agenda. Meanwhile, UNAMA’s third quarterly report in 2020 on the protection of civilians in the conflict, published today, shows that, since the talks began, civilian casualties caused by the two parties now talking in Doha have actually increased. Data from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) also shows little abatement in the violence and the Taleban as responsible for the bulk of attacks. Here, AAN’s Kate Clark unpicks trends in the violence afflicting Afghanistan and considers how the Taleban have so far taken advantage of the stronger position which the peace process has left them in

A wounded child is carried to hospital after a car bomb targeted a government building in the Ghanikhel district of Nangrahar province on 3 October 2020. More than forty people were reported injured and 15 killed. Photo: Noorullah Shirzada / AFP

Looking through the ACLED incident reports, and the types of ‘event’ carried out by the unidentified groups shown in the table below, it is evident that the vast majority involved insurgent tactics, particularly the use of IEDs. The Taleban appear to be the likely perpetrator of most, alongside a small number probably perpetrated by ISKP and with some government attacks that did not get attributed and private murders added in. Also notable from the data set is the concentration of attacks by unidentified groups in Afghanistan’s urban areas, especially provincial capitals. People living in cities such as Kabul, Lashkargah, Kandahar, Sar-e Pul, Herat, Tirin Kot and Ghazni will recognize this pattern after months of what has seemed to be the increased threat of magnetic bombs and other devices: they may have been mostly spared large-scale attacks this year, but have still been threatened by smaller-scale acts of violence. As AAN reported in August, the Taliban, like other parties to the conflict has been reporting their attacks much more sparingly since 29 February and this is the likely reason for the ballooning in unattributed insurgent attacks.  

( Source:UNAMA)

The decrease in ANSF attacks since 29 February is also noticeable in the ACLED database. The ANSF first took a ‘defensive posture’ after the signing of the US-Taleban agreement in the hopes of encouraging a more general reduction in  violence. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) reported in July that “the majority of ANDSF forces remain in defensive positions.”

برنامه کنفرانس بیست سالگی فارو در 7 نومبر 2020

برنامه کنفرانس مروری بر تحولات اخیر و ضرورت اتحاد و همبستگی افغانهای مقیم اروپا

در بیست سالگی فارو

هفت نومبر 2020

برنامه  کنفرانس

گرداننده  : آقای علی دلیری وهمکار تخنیکی خانم میترا دلیری

شروع کنفرانس 14:00 –14:05 به وقت اروپا  با یک آهنگ میهنی

نمایش فیلم کوتاه : 14:05 – 14:10 مرور مختصر از بیست سال فعالیت فارو

بخش اول : سخنرانی ها

14:10 – 14:15  آفتتاحیه کنفرانس  : خانم لونا ولی  ریئس فارو   

   14:17 – 14:27  آقای دکتور ویس جلالزاده عضوهئیت مدیره فار:”پیام فارو برای ضرورت همبستگی افغانهای مقیم  اروپا”

  14:28 – 14:36  خانم انار کلی هنر یار نماینده مردم  درمجلس سنا: “ضرورت حقظ حقوق شهردندی در نظام اینده افغانستان”

   14:37 – 14:45 پروفسور توردیقل میمنگی  از دنمارک : “مروری به بازی های تکتیکی صلح بمثابۀ افزار استراتیژیکی تداوم جنگ ها در افغانستان”

     14:46 – 14:50 آقای صبور زمانی مسئول خانه افغانستان در برلین آلمان: “ضرورت یکپارچگی افغانهای اروپا”

    14:51 – 14:57   دوکتور صالح سلجوقی نماینده مردم هرات در دوره 15 و 16 پارلمان : “اوضاع جاری کشور در کشاکش مدرنیته، افراطیت مذهبی و ساختار محتمل دولت آینده”.

  14:58 – 15:05 آقای مهدی شیرزاد از سازمان انکشاف-حقوق بشر و صلح افغانستان : “دورنمای مذاکرات صلح در وضعیت کنونی کشور”.

   15:06- 15:12 انجنیر شعیب لعلی :دیده بان دادخواهی مردم افغانستان (لندن انگلستان ) “حقوق بشر زیر سایه تجاوز”.

   15:13- 15:23 بانو دکتور سیما سمر : “حقوق بشر در پروسه صلح”.

  15:24 – 15:34  نمایش فلم مستند از کارکردهای  فارو در بیست سال گذشته

   15:35- 15:40 آقای نصیر رحیم   از انجمن پامیر امستردام : ” نیازمندی های افغانهای مقیم اروپا  و نقش موثر ما در تحولات داخل کشور”.

   15:41 – 15:46 بانو اورزلا نعمت ریئس واحد تحقیق و ارزیانی افغانستان: “عوامل خشونت و منازعات در افغانستان و راهکارهای برون رفت از آن”.

 15:47- 15:52 آقای رجاه رفیق از کشور فنلاند : “امکانات و چگونگی کمک افغانستانی های خارج کشور به نیرروهای ملی در داخل”.

15:53- 16:03 داکتر حنان روستائی : “سلفی ها چرا آثار و آبدات تاریخی را تخریب میکنند؟”

   16:09-16:04 خانم فریده احمدی رئیس کمیته امور زنان فارو از کشور ناروی : “نادیده گرفتن هویت مستقل زن از خانواده تا مذاکرات صلح”.

   16:10- 16:17 آقای حسین سرآمد از موسسه حقوق بشر و دموکراسی – کابل : “اهمیت مشارکت قربانیان در فرایند صلح”

 16:18 – 16:26 آقای میا جان ثبات از انجمن افغانهای مقیم مادرید- اسپانیا: “نیازبه همبستگی بیشتر انجمنها در اوضاع جدید “

 16:27 – 16:32 پروفسور توماس ایلان ایریکسن: استاد دانشگاه اوسلو کشور ناروی و پژوهشگر در حوزه مهاجرت

بخش دوم : بحث آزاد ، پرسش ها،پاسخها و نتیجه گیری ها

16:33 – 17:13 پرسش و پاسخ

17:15- 17:25 جمع‌بندی کنفرانس : آقای پیکار پامیر نویسنده و تاریخ نگار از تورنتو کانادا

طرح قطعنامه کنفرانس:

یاداشت نکات نظر کلید واژه های همسو با اهداف کنفرانس از ابراز نظر های سخنرانان و گفتمان پرسش و پاسخ  حاضرین، برای تهیه قطعنامه کنفرانس: لونا ولی، داکتر سید موسی صمیمی، داکتر حنان روستائی، پروفسور توردیقل میمنگی، محترم قاضی احمد راتب فقیری، محترم محمد شاه فرهود، محترم انجنیر خیال آریوبی و کحترم انجنیر احمد شیرزاد.

ختم کنفرانس 17:30

Covid-19 in Afghanistan and the aid response

In addition to its disastrous public health effects on Afghanistan, the Covid-19 pandemic is harming the country’s economy and has pushed more people into poverty. Covid is also creating a sizable hole in the national budget, diverting precious aid resources away from development and any possible ‘peace dividend’ and complicating rather than simplifying current political dynamics including around the peace process. Guest author Bill Byrd*, a senior expert at the US Institute of Peace expressing his own views, analyses the economic,

fiscal and political economy implications of the pandemic. 

  • Though reliable data are lacking, Covid-19 has been estimated to be infecting many millions of Afghans with a likely death toll in the hundreds of thousands, most probably well exceeding total deaths of both combatants and civilians since 2001.
  • The pandemic has pushed Afghanistan’s economy into negative growth (meaning the economy is shrinking). It has opened up a fiscal hole of more than 800 million USD in 2020 (on top of the enormous existing structural budget deficit) and is worsening Afghanistan’s already high poverty rate from just over half to around two-thirds.
  • Donors have responded with some 1.5 billion USD in Covid-response aid, but only a small portion (in the order of 20 per cent) represents new money ­– the rest comes from front-loading, repurposing and accelerating aid already in the pipeline, along with ‘borrowing’ some aid from future years.
  • As a result, Covid is diverting existing aid resources away from medium-term development priorities and reducing the scope for a ‘peace dividend’.
  • Unfortunately, the pandemic has not resulted in greater political unity in Afghanistan ­– neither across the divide with the Taleban, nor among non-Taleban political groupings.
  • While prospects appear bleak, Afghan leaders and the country’s international partners need to take informed, well thought-out actions to make the best of the current situation and generate some potential for future progress.