Kabul – Civilian casualties in Afghanistan rose sharply after peace talks began last year, the United Nations said in a report released on Tuesday, calling for a ceasefire as negotiators met for the first time after weeks of inaction.
US-Brocade peace talks began in September, but progress has slowed and violence has escalated with uncertainty as to whether international forces will pull troops by May, as originally planned.
According to the annual report of the United Nations Campaign (UNAMA), civilian casualties in 2020 were 8,820. This was 15 percent lower than the previous year, but the report’s authors noted the alarm intensified and with historically high civilian casualties in the final three months of 2020, when peace talks began.
Last year “could have been a year of peace in Afghanistan. Instead, thousands of Afghan civilians were exterminated,” said UNAMA chief Deborah Leone, reiterating calls for a cease-fire, which has been repeatedly rejected by the Taliban . “Parties refusing to consider a cease-fire must recognize the disastrous consequences.”
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The Taliban released a critical response to the report on Tuesday, stating that “the concerns we shared, accurate information and accurate details have not been taken into account.”
The report said that for the first time since records began, there was an increase in deaths and injuries from the last three months to the last three months of the year. The casualty for the fourth quarter was 45 percent compared to the same period in 2019.
Non-governmental actors were given a majority, mainly rebel Taliban, and more than one-fifth were attributed to government forces.
A government spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The two sides said on Twitter that their chief negotiators met in Doha, the venue for talks, Monday evening, saying the teams would continue to work on an agenda.
After a month-long break in the New Year period, negotiators returned to Doha some time before several senior Taliban members quit to hold meetings in Russia and Iran. The Mujahid said that they would hold more meetings soon.
Jabiullah said that Lul was only a break and the Taliban were committed to dialogue, with more meetings expected to take place in the coming days.