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Feb. 23 – Afghanistan saw the lowest number of civilian casualties since 2013 last year — but targeted killings rose dramatically, according to a study released by the United Nations on Tuesday.The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan reported 3,035 deaths and 5,785 injuries in the country in 2020, for a total of 8,820 civilian casualties, according to the annual Afghanistan Safety of Civilians in Armed Conflict Annual Report.

That figure is 15 percent lower than the number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan, and 2020 also marked a decrease below 10,000 for the first time since 2013. Officials said that the number of casualties attributed to foreign military forces has declined, as have the casualties from suicide bombings in populated areas by anti-government elements.But researchers have found a “worrying rise” by the same anti-government elements in targeted killings.

“I am particularly appalled by the high numbers of human rights defenders, journalists, and media workers killed since peace negotiations began in September,”I am particularly appalled by the high numbers of human rights defenders, journalists, and media workers killed since peace negotiations began in September.Since September, at least 11 human rights defenders, journalists and other media employees have been killed, with 65 such workers killed since January 2021.

The UN Secretary-Special General’s Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, Deborah Lyons, said that the best way to protect civilians would be to establish a humanitarian ceasefire, repeating a request repeatedly made by Secretary-General António Guterres and the Security Council.NATO defense ministers announced last week that they would make a decision by May 1 on the alliance’s role in Afghanistan.

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