Justin Bullock, FISM News
With the departure of US forces, the Taliban and other insurgent groups have taken aggressive action in Afghanistan resulting in the highest civilian death and injury toll over two months since recording began in 2009. The UN has reported that at least 2,400 civilians were killed or injured over the months of May and June 2021. This is a 47% spike in the death toll compared to a year ago, with many of the reported deaths among women and children. The UN has identified at least 5,183 civilian casualties since January until June of this year. It is expected that numbers in July could also set records. The UN’s Assistance Mission to Afghanistan released a briefing on the alarming situation which said,
Of serious concern is the acute rise in the number of civilians killed and injured in the period from 1 May, with almost as many civilian casualties in the May–June period as recorded in the entire preceding four months.
The Taliban has taken over a large portion of the country’s territory by force following the US announced withdrawal, focusing on gaining provincial capitals and key strategic locations. Only a small number of US troops remain in the country with a full withdrawal deadline set for August 31. This means that resistance to the Taliban’s efforts are left to the Afghan military forces who seem to have only a marginal advantage over the Taliban forces. It is unclear what will happen in the country if the Taliban continues to press further and is ultimately victorious and left unchecked.
Deborah Lyons, the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, pleaded with Afghan and Taliban leaders,
I implore the Taliban and Afghan leaders to take heed of the conflict’s grim and chilling trajectory and its devastating impact on civilians. Unprecedented numbers of Afghan civilians will perish and be maimed this year if the increasing violence is not stemmed.