The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has condemned today the killing of 16 civilians, and injuring of several others, when their minibus hit an improvised explosive device (IED) on Saturday.
Mostly women and children, the victims were members of three families returning to their village, having fled violent clashes between anti-Government elements and Afghan National Security Forces earlier the same day.
“It's an outrage that explosive devices continue to be planted in areas where the likelihood of civilian death and injury is high,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General's Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan.
“Yesterday's incident shows how those who flee violence, especially women and children, are particularly vulnerable. Parties to the conflict must ensure the safe passage of civilians fleeing the fighting and immediately cease the use of indiscriminate weapons.”
The explosion, which occurred in the Marja district of the southern province of Helmand, killed 11 women, three children and two men, with an additional four children and three men sustaining injuries.
IEDs were the second leading cause of civilian casualties in Afghanistan in 2014. Next month, UNAMA will release its 2015 mid-year report on the protection of civilians, including detailed reporting on civilian casualties.
UNAMA emphasizes that international humanitarian law explicitly prohibits the use of weapons whose effects may not be limited, and obliges parties to the conflict to ensure the safety of civilians fleeing violence.