The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) [official website] on Saturday issued the 2013 Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict [text, PDF], which found a total of 8,615 civilian casualties in 2013, a 14 percent increase since 2012. According to the report, 74 percent of the total civilian deaths and injuries in 2013 were inflicted by anti-government forces, and many of those were caused by either suicide attacks or Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). In addition to the overall increase in civilian deaths, the report details the increased peril for women and children. 2013 was the worst year since 2009 in terms of the number of women and children killed in conflict-related violence and the UNAMA called on [UN News Centre report] all parties of the conflict to take further action to protect women and children.
Reported civilian casualties have been a source of ongoing tension throughout the conflict in Afghanistan. In October provincial police in eastern Afghanistan reported [JURIST report] that at least five civilians were killed in a NATO [official profile] airstrike near Jalalabad. In September UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] called on [JURIST report] the Afghan government to strengthen human rights efforts in preparation for presidential elections in April 2014, urging the government to give particular attention to the growing rate of civilian casualties. In July the UNAMA mid-year report [JURIST report] indicated a 23 percent rise in the number of Afghan civilian casualties over the first six months of 2013 compared to the same period of 2012.