UN Urging Taliban to Reduce Afghan Civilian Casualties

UNITED NATIONS — Dec 19, 2014

The U.N. said Friday it's been talking to the Taliban about reducing civilian casualties in Afghanistan but hasn't seen any change on the ground, where it attributes 75 percent of deaths and injuries this year to the insurgent group that used to rule the country.

Nicholas Haysom, the top U.N. envoy in Afghanistan, told a news conference that the U.N. has shared its casualty reports with Taliban officials who have an office in Doha, capital of the Gulf nation of Qatar. He said the Taliban officials' initial response was to reject the report and claim the U.N. figures are inaccurate. But he said the U.N. has been able to demonstrate that almost all issues they raised have been addressed in the casualty report.

Georgette Gagnon, the human rights director for the U.N.'s Afghan mission known as UNAMA, said the world body has seen a change in Taliban "messaging" but no measurable improvement on the ground.

According to UNAMA, in the 11 months up to Nov. 30, there were 9,617 civilian casualties in Afghanistan? 3,188 deaths and 6,429 injuries. UNAMA attributes 12 percent of civilian casualties to pro-government forces.