Afghanistan

Victim Assistance

Last updated: 11 October 2018

 

Casualties[1]

All known casualties (between 1978 and 2017)

30,980 mine/unexploded remnants of war (ERW) casualties: 7,456 killed and 23,524 injured

Casualties in 2017

Annual total

2,300

Increase from
1,985 in 2016[2]

Survival outcome

797 killed; 1,503 injured

Device type causing casualties

62 antipersonnel mine; 21 antivehicle mine; 1,093 improvised mine; 1,124 ERW

Civilian status

2,297 civilians; 3 deminers

Age and gender

1,030 adults:
160 women; 870 men

1,270 children:
1,082 boys; 188 girls

 

The mine ERW casualty total for 2017 for the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is based on Monitor analysis of data provided by the Directorate of Mine Action Coordination (DMAC). There has been a trend of increasing mine/ERW casualties in Afghanistan since 2013. In 2017, the increase was attributable to an increase in ERW casualties. Casualties caused by antipersonnel mines,antivehicle mines, and improvised mines decreased in 2017. Mine/ERW and improvised explosive device (IED) casualty data in Afghanistan is updated regularly and therefore discrepancies often occur in the total numbers of recorded casualties between update periods.

In 2017, the majority of mine/ERW casualties, 55%, were children (1,124 of 2,039 were the age was known). This represents a continuing increase in annual child casualties both in total numbers and as a proportion of the total compared to 2016 (42%, or 841 casualties) and 2015 (36%, or 577 casualties).

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has reported that improvised mines constructed aspressure-plate IEDs (PP-IEDs),“function as victim-activated devices, triggered by any person stepping on them—including children—or any vehicle driving over them.” These improvised mines, therefore, likely fit the Mine Ban Treaty definition of antipersonnel mines.[3] In 2018, the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) replaced the term PP-IED with Abandoned Improvised Mine (AIM) in its data.[4] The term PP-IED continued to be used by UNAMA.[5] The number of PP-IED casualties recorded by DMAC decreased slightly to 1,093 in 2017 from the 1,185 recorded for 2016.[6] The annual number of improvised landmine casualties reported with disaggregated data by UNMAS and/or UNAMA for the years 2012–2017was far higher than those identified in the years prior to 2011: 2017 (1,041), 2016 (1,195), 2015 (1,101), 2014 (809),[7] 2013 (567), and 2012 (987).[8]

For 2017, UNAMA reported 1,019 PP-IED casualties.[9] Civilian casualties from improvised mines accounted for more than half of the 1,856 (624 killed; 1,232 injured) civilian casualties from IEDs reported by UNAMA for 2017 in its annual report. UNAMA uses a strict and exacting methodology for verification of civilian casualties, and acknowledges that this, together with limitations in the operating environment, creates the possibility of under-reporting. UNAMA describes its methodology and limitations on its data as follows: “For verification of each incident involving a civilian casualty, UNAMA requires at least three different and independent types of sources, i.e. victim, witness, medical practitioner, local authorities, confirmation by party to the conflict, community leader or other sources…Where UNAMA is not satisfied with information concerning an incident, it will not consider it as verified. Unverified incidents are not included in this report…UNAMA does not claim that the statistics presented in this report are complete and acknowledges possible under-reporting of civilian casualties given limitations inherent in the operating environment.”[10] Since 2015, UNAMA has reported a continued decrease in civilian deaths and injuries from command-detonated IEDs,[11] which are not prohibited by the Mine Ban Treaty.

Both DMAC of the government of Afghanistan (previously, MACCA) and UNAMA have expressed concerns about civilian casualties from ERW associated with the closure of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) bases and high-explosive firing ranges. Many of the ranges were not sufficiently cleared of ERW prior to closure.[12] Casualties from bases and ranges were recorded as follows: two in 2009, nine in 2010, 15 in 2011, 49 in 2012, 53 in 2013, 34 in 2014, eight in 2015, 22 in 2016, and 10 in 2017.[13]

Cluster munition casualties

Since 1980, 756 casualties of cluster munition remnants have been recorded. In addition, at least 26 casualties during cluster munition strikes have been recorded.[14] DMAC/MACCA data included 249 unexploded submunition casualties since 1981.[15] No unexploded submunition casualties were reported in 2016 and 2017; four were reported in 2015.



[1] Casualty data for 2017 is based on emails from Habib Khan Zazai, Head, Victim Assistance Department, United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), in support of Directorate of Mine Action Coordination (DMAC), 4 April and 21 June 2018.

[2] In 2018, DMAC revised the total of mine/ERW casualties for 2016 to 1,985 from the 1,943 reported in the Monitor in 2017. Email from Habib Khan Zazai, UNMAS, 4 April 2018.

[3] UNAMA “Protection of Civilians Annual Report 2016,” February 2017, pp. 7, 52, 56.

[4] Email from Habib Khan Zazai, UNMAS, 21 June 2018.

[5] UNAMA reported different figures for mine/ERW casualties and PP-IED (improvised mines) casualties in its annual Protection of Civilians report. UNAMA “Protection of Civilians Annual Report 2017,” February 20017, pp. 16–17, 31–32.

[6] In 2018, revised DMAC data put the number of improvised mine casualties for 2016 as 1,195 from the 1,180 previously reported in 2017.

[7] UNMAS reports 654 improvised mine casualties for 2014. Email from Habib Khan Zazai, UNMAS, 17 June 2017.

[8] Data analysis conducted by the Monitor.

[9] UNAMA uses a strict and exacting methodology for verification of civilian casualties and acknowledges that this, together with limitations in the operating environment, creates the possibility of under-reporting. UNAMA describes its methodology and limitations on its data as follows: “For verification of each incident involving a civilian casualty, UNAMA requires at least three different and independent types of sources, i.e. victim, witness, medical practitioner, local authorities, confirmation by party to the conflict, community leader or other sources…Where UNAMA is not satisfied with information concerning an incident, it will not consider it as verified. Unverified incidents are not included in this report…UNAMA does not claim that the statistics presented in this report are complete and acknowledges possible under-reporting of civilian casualties given limitations inherent in the operating environment.” See, UNAMA “Protection of Civilians Annual Report 2016,” February 2017, pp. 1–2.

[10] See, UNAMA “Protection of Civilians Annual Report 2016,” February 2017, pp. 1–2.

[11] Including remote-controlled, non-suicide vehicle-borne, and magnetic IEDs.

[12] UNAMA, “Protection of Civilians 2014 Mid-Year Report,” July 2014.

[13] Email from Habib Khan Zazai, UNMAS, 7 May 2017, and 4 April 2018.

[14] HI, Circle of Impact: The Fatal Footprint of Cluster Munitions on People and Communities (Brussels: HI, May 2007), p. 95. The ICRC recorded 707 casualties occurring during cluster munition use between 1980 and 31 December 2006, to which 47 casualties from 2007 to the end of 2015 recorded by MACCA were added. Due to under-reporting, it is likely that the numbers of casualties during use, as well as those caused by unexploded submunitions, were significantly higher.

[15] Casualty data provided by MACCA, 2 May 2016; and by UNMAS, 5 April 2017.