Afghanistan has seen its worst month for civilian casualties as peace talks between the Taliban and the United States continue, a report has shown.
A US Envoy to Afghanistan announced that it has shown the President of Afghanistan the draft of an agreement between US forces and the Taliban, the Afghan Government has said.
The draft followed the conclusion of the ninth round of peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar.
In a tweet made on the 1st of September, the US Diplomat in charge of peace talks, Zalmay Khalilzad, said: “We are at the threshold of an agreement that will reduce violence.”
We are at the threshold of an agreement that will reduce violence and open the door for Afghans to sit together to negotiate an honorable & sustainable peace and a unified, sovereign Afghanistan that does not threaten the United States, its allies, or any other country.— U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad (@US4AfghanPeace) August 31, 2019
Largest increase in almost a decade
During the Eighth round of talks, however, the number of civilian casualties from explosive violence had seen it’s largest increase in almost a decade, according to research released by the Charity Action on Armed Violence.
The Charity, which records the harms of Armed Violence across the world, reported that Afghanistan saw its worst month of explosive violence in July since the Charity began recording in October 2010.
This included over 4 years where British troops were actively fighting against Taliban insurgents, before the UK Government pulled out military support in 2014.
A more stable, safer place?
Iain Overton, the head of Action on Armed Violence, said: “The current surge in violence in Afghanistan raises a fundamental concern: has the military intervention by the United States and other nations since 2001 left Afghanistan a more stable, safer place?”
1,013 civilians were injured during the month, which accounted for around two thirds of the roughly 1,500 injuries from explosive violence in the country.
240 Civilians were killed among 82 recorded incidents, almost 5 times higher than the number of deaths reported by the Charity in June, with over 7 times as many injuries reported when compared to previous months.
The results of July alone nearly exceeded the number of civilian casualties between January and June 2019, which was roughly 1,327 civilian casualties over 6 months.
The overwhelming majority of injuries and deaths were caused by Improvised Explosive Devices, and suicide attacks were responsible for over half of all injuries to civilians.
Afghanistan’s capital city, Kabul, saw almost a third of civilian casualties in the month, with over 300 residents being victim to explosive attacks.
Rise in Taliban activity
In 2018, the largest perpetrator of explosive attacks was The Islamic State, however a rise in Taliban activity in recent months, and the fall of Islamic State strongholds in the Middle East have meant that the composition of violence in the Country has changed.
In July, roughly 83% of attacks where perpetrators were identified by Police were attributed to Taliban fighters, possibly indicating a direct link between peace talks and the rise in violence.
Iain Overton added: “If this is a premonition of things to come, Afghanistan will not be entering an era of peace with this ‘new deal’, but an era of even greater pain and suffering.”
“The worse could be yet to come.”