KABUL — Civilian casualties in Afghanistan escalated sharply after peace talks started final yr, the United Nations mentioned in a report launched on Tuesday, calling for a ceasefire as negotiators met for the primary time after weeks of inaction.
U.S.-brokered peace talks started in September however progress has since slowed and violence has risen with uncertainty over whether or not worldwide forces will pull out troops by Could as initially deliberate.
Civilian casualties had been 8,820 in 2020, in response to the United Nations’ mission to Afghanistan’s (UNAMA) annual report. That was 15 p.c decrease than the earlier yr, however the report’s authors famous with alarm a pointy uptick and traditionally excessive civilian casualties within the ultimate three months of 2020, when peace talks started.
Final yr “may have been the yr of peace in Afghanistan. As a substitute, 1000’s of Afghan civilians perished,” mentioned Deborah Lyons, head of UNAMA, reiterating requires a ceasefire which has been repeatedly rejected by the Taliban. “Events refusing to think about a ceasefire should acknowledge the devastating penalties.”
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The Taliban on Tuesday issued a response vital of the report, saying “the issues, exact data and correct particulars that had been shared by us haven’t been taken into consideration.”
The report mentioned that for the primary time since information started, deaths and accidents had escalated within the ultimate three months of the yr from the earlier three months. Casualties for the fourth quarter had been up 45 p.c in contrast with the identical interval in 2019.
The bulk had been ascribed to non-government actors, predominately the rebel Taliban, and greater than one-fifth had been attributed to authorities forces.
A authorities spokesman didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.
Each side mentioned on Twitter their chief negotiators met in Doha, the venue for talks, on Monday night, including that groups would proceed work on an agenda.
After a monthlong break over the brand new yr interval, negotiators returned to Doha briefly earlier than many senior members of the Taliban left to carry conferences in Russia and Iran. Mujahid mentioned they’d maintain additional conferences quickly.
Zabihullah mentioned that the lull was solely a break and the Taliban had been dedicated to talks, with additional conferences anticipated in coming days.