Some Statistics on Afghanistan (April 2020)

It has been a while since I have posted on the situation in Afghanistan. This post is not about the coronavirus (Afghanistan reported as of Sunday 337 cases with 7 deaths and 15 recovered), but about the never ending war there. The country has been in open warfare much of the time since 1979. The latest quarterly report on Afghanistan from the United Nations Secretary General is now available. These are always worth looking at as they appear to have less “spin” then many other reports:

The report was posted 23 March, although I did not see it on their site at that time (I was looking). It is dated 17 March, which is later then they usually file these reports. Probably because a lot was going on with the attempted peace agreements.

  1. For 2019, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) documented 10,392 civilian casualties (3,403 killed and 6,989 injured), a 5 per decrease compared with 2018, but the sixth year in a row with more than 10,000 documented civilian casualties.
    1. In 2018 the United Nations documented 10,993 civilian casualties (3,804 people killed and 7,189 injured). This was the highest number of civilian deaths recorded in a single year since UNAMA began systematic documentation in 2009, and an increased of 5% compared to 2017.
    2. “Since systematic documentation began in 2009, UNAMA has documented more than 100,000 civilian casualties, with more than 35,000 killed and 65,000 injured.”
    3. Woman and children represented 42 per cent of the civilian casualties in 2019.
    4. “In January, UNAMA documented a significant decrease in civilian casualties in comparison with the same period in 2019.”
    5. “Most civilian casualties (62 per cent) continued to be caused by anti-government elements, 47 per cent attributed to the Taliban, 12 per cent to ISIL-KP and the remainder to undetermined and other anti-government elements.”
    6. “Pro-government forces caused 28 per cent of civilian casualties (including 8 per cent by international military forces).”
      1. “UNAMA documented an 18 per cent increase in civilian casualties attributed to international military forces.”
      2. “Civilian casualties caused by the Afghan National Security and Defence Forces increased by 3 per cent.”
    7. Suicide and non-suicide improvised explosive devices remained the leading cause of civilian casualties, representing 42 per cent of the total, followed by ground engagements (29 percent) and aerial operations (10 per cent).
      1. “In 2019, UNAMA documented a 24 per cent increase in civilian casualties from non-suicide improvised explosive devices by anti-government elements in comparison with 2018.”
      2. “Civilian casualties from pro-government aerial and search operations reached record high levels, with a 3 and a 2 per cent increase, respectively, in comparison with 2018.”
      3. “UNAMA also documented the continued elements, including electoral officials and election-related facilities, judges, prosecutors, health-care workers, and aid workers, as well as continued attacks against the Shi’a Muslim population” (bolding is mine).
      4. “The task force verified 10 attacks against hospitals and protected personnel, a decrease compared with the previous reporting period (26 attacks). Attacks were attributed to the Taliban (eight), and ISIL-KP and the Afghan National Army (one each)…”
      5. “A total of 29 confirmed cases of polio had been reported in 2019….Of these, 25 cases originated inaccessible areas where house-to-house immunization campaigns have been banned by the Taliban since May 2019.”
      6. Explosive remnants of war and anti-personnel mines causes 134 child casualties from November to anuary, killing 49 children and injuring 85.”
  2. “Between 8 November and 6 February, UNAMA recorded 4,907 security-related incidents, a similar number as during the same period in the previous year.”
    1. This includes 2,811 armed clashes.
    2. Use of improvise explosive devices was the second highest type of incident.
    3. 8 Suicide attacks this period, compared to 31 in the previous three-month period and 12 in the same period in 2019.
    4. 330 air strikes were conducted by Afghan and international air forces, an 19% decrease compared with the same period in 2019.
    5. “A nationwide reduction in violence commenced on 22 February…”
    6. “In 2018, the United Nations recorded 22,478 security-related incidents, a 5 per cent reduction as compared with the historically high 23,744 security-related incidents recorded in 2017.”
  3. Territory was changing hands:
    1. “On 31 December the Taliban reportedly took control of Darzab district in Jawzjan Province following the withdrawal of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces.”
    2. “The Taliban also temporarily captures Arghandad district in Zabul Province…”
    3. “…while the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces recaptured Guzargahi Nur district in Baghlan Province, which had been under Taliban control since September 2019.”

              Security           Incidences      Civilian

Year      Incidences       Per Month       Deaths

2008        8,893                  741

2009      11,524                  960

2010      19,403               1,617

2011      22,903               1,909

2012      18,441?             1,537?                             *

2013      20,093               1,674               2,959

2014      22,051               1,838               3,699

2015      22,634               1,886               3,545

2016      23,712               1,976               3,498

2017      23,744               1,979               3,438

2018      22,478               1,873               3,804


As I noted in my post last year: “This war does appear to be flat-lined, with no end in sight.”

Now, on 29 February in Doha the United States and the Taliban signed an agreement to reduce the number of U.S. forces to 8,600 troops in 135 days with a proportional reduction in the number of coalition forces. It is to be followed by the drawdown of all international forces within another nine and half months. This is subject to the Taliban fulfilling their commitments under the agreement. I have blogged about this before. There is still no agreement between the current government of Afghanistan and the Taliban.

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Christopher A. Lawrence
Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience.
Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation.
His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024).
Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

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