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President seeks explanation on civilian casualties

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has ordered the National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) to abide by strict rules for preventing civilian casualties in their operations against militants.

A UN report from last month shows that a record number of civilians were killed in 2018.

“As President of a responsible state, I must say that civilian casualties are the most tragic event in times of war, it pains me as much as any other Afghan when I hear about harm to civilians,” Ghani said. He made the remarks at an meeting with senior security officials from his cabinet as well as from the NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.

“I have ordered ANDSF to either abort or to wait-out a potential target if even a single civilian is present,” Ghani said in a tweet hours after his meeting.

“Our security and defense forces are committed to the rules of war and engagement and they only provide proportionate response to any enemy attacks,” Ghani added.

Ghani said the Afghan security agencies have taken urgently steps whenever they have received any reports on civilian casualties.

“These casualties are unacceptable to the Government and the leaderships of our ANDSF, if that is one person or more. In the past few years whenever we have received such reports they have been followed up urgently and efforts have been made to avoid harming civilians,” Ghani added.

“I’ve summoned the leaders of the ANDSF not only to provide explanation about previous investigations vis-a-vis civilian casualties, but also to deliberate about avoiding civilian losses in the future and to ultimately reduce and end the level of such unfortunate incidents,” Ghani said in a tweet after the meeting.

The UN in a report released last month said the organization has documented 3,804 civilian deaths, including 927 children, in 2018.

In total, UNAMA documented 10,993 civilian casualties (3,804 deaths and 7,189) wounded), representing a five percent increase in overall civilian casualties and an 11 percent increase in civilian deaths compared with 2017.

In this report, UNAMA attributes the majority of civilian casualties – 63 percent – to anti-government elements (37% to Taliban, 20 percent to Daesh, and 6 percent to undetermined anti-government elements).

According to the report, pro-government forces caused 24 percent civilian deaths (14 percent by Afghan national security forces, six percent by international military forces, and four percent by other pro-government armed groups and forces).

The report says that key factors contributing to the significant increase in civilian casualties were a spike in suicide attacks by anti-government elements, mainly Daesh, as well as increased harm to civilians from aerial and search operations by pro-government forces.

The report says that 2018 witnessed the highest number of civilian casualties ever recorded from suicide attacks and aerial operations.

Ghani leaves for Azerbaijan to attend Global Baku Forum

Pajhwok adds: At the head of a high-level delegation, President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday left Kabul for Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, to attend the 7th Global Baku Forum.

A statement from the Presidential Palace said President Ghani would attend the Global Baku Forum and would also receive the Nizami Ganjavi International Award.

The statement said the president would also meet with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev to discuss bilateral cooperation and regional issues.

Afghanistan and Azerbaijan would also sign an agreement of cooperation in areas of information technology, culture and railway during Ghani’s visit to the country.

The 7th Global Baku Forum, organized by the Nizami Ganjavi International Center, will take place on March 14-16.

As many as 450 guests from more than 70 countries are expected to attend the forum. The theme of the forum this year will be “New Global Foreign Policy”.

The panel meetings entitled “Role of big forces in changing global politics”, “Sustainable Development Challenges”, “Middle Eastern cooperation for security”, “Role of science and culture in making modern decisions” and other topics will be held during the forum.

One of the main meetings of the forum will be devoted to the role of young leaders in global politics.

Besides well-known statesmen, politicians, reputable public figures, the incumbent heads of state and government will attend the event. (TOLOnews)