Last updated: 9 March 2011
Attempts to estimate civilian casualties from armed conflict face a number of particular challenges: it can be difficult to determine whether the victims were civilians or combatants. It can also be difficult to determine whether they were injured or killed because of the fighting or as a result of a non-conflict related incident.
Nonetheless, estimates of civilian casualties contribute to our understanding of the true costs of conflict. They can also be used by governments and militaries to develop harm-reduction strategies.
Data from two different sources are presented in this section:
- Civilian casualties collected by the UN Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA), shown below; and
- One-Sided Violence—reported and codable deaths of civilians who
were targeted by a government or formally organized group—collected by the Uppsala Conflict Data Program.
The section on Violent Incidents also has data on civilian casualties from Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks and attacks on Aid Workers and Journalists in Afghanistan.
These categories are not mutually exclusive and in some cases the datasets overlap.
About the Data Souce
The data categories used here are the same as those in the Source documents. To learn more about civilian casualty data from the 2008 and 2009 UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan Annual Reports on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, and the 2010 Mid-Year Report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, please visit the UNAMA website.
UNAMA Human Rights Unit monitors incidents involving civilians and advocates for greater protection of civilians in armed conflict.
UNAMA investigates reports of civilian casualties through a variety of sources including primary testimonies of victims, direct interviews with other parties involved, site visits and media and NGO reports.
UNAMA does not included incidents where information in unclear, and previous conclusions on casualties may be revised should additional information provided necessitate such change.
Cases where non-combatant status of casualties cannot be accurately determined are not included in total number of civilian casualties.
In 2009 UNAMA established an electronic database, "designed to facilitate the systematic, uniform and effective collection and analysis of information, including disaggregation by age and gender." (UNAMA, 2009)
"[...] it may be the case that, given the limitations associated with the operating environment, UNAMA HR is under-reporting civilian casualties." (UNAMA, 2009)
Only data that were clearly comparable from year to year are included in
the graphs below; additional data are reported in UNAMA reports,
including breakdowns by type of attacks (IEDs, Aerial Attacks,
Executions and other tactics).
The following resources provide information, data, and analysis on civilian casualties in Afghanistan: