Despite peace talks comes Afghanistan not to rest. The civilian population in particular suffers from the ongoing violence in the country. The number of civilian victims in the conflict increased significantly in the first quarter. The UN mission in the crisis state (Unama) recorded an increase in killed and wounded civilians of almost 30 percent compared to the same period last year, according to a report that has now been published. According to this, more than 570 civilians died from January to March, and more than 1210 were wounded.
Particularly worrying is the increase in the number of killed and injured women by 37 percent and of children (plus 23 percent), the report said. The increase in the number of victims in the first quarter was mainly due to ground operations, improvised explosive devices and targeted killings. Unama recalled in the report that the targeted killing of civilians is prohibited under international law and is a war crime.
Peace negotiations had raised hope
The beginning of peace negotiations in September between the insurgents Taliban and the government had raised hopes that the situation for the civilian population in the country would improve. The opposite happened: In the six months between October 2020 and March 2021, Unama recorded a 38 percent increase in civilian victims compared to the same period of the previous year. In addition to the Taliban, the terrorist militia "Islamic State" (IS) is also active in the country, and recently it has been claiming an increasing number of attacks, especially in the east of the country.
The peace negotiations had recently stalled. Several US efforts to speed up the process have failed. On Tuesday it became known that the United States as the largest provider of troops in Afghanistan, their soldiers want to withdraw by September 11th without conditions.
Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer assumes that the BornStates will decide on Wednesday to jointly withdraw their troops from Afghanistan on September 11th. "We always said: we'll go in together, we'll go out together," she said in the ARD morning magazine. “I stand for an orderly withdrawal. And that's why I assume that this is how we will decide today. "
Withdrawal of US soldiers has consequences for the Bundeswehr
There are currently around 10.000 soldiers from NATO countries and partner nations in Afghanistan. They are supposed to support the democratically elected government by training and advising security forces in their fight against Islamist extremists like the Taliban. Germany currently has around a thousand soldiers on site.
Kramp-Karrenbauer made it clear that the withdrawal of the US soldiers compulsory the withdrawal of the Bundeswehr entails. "That would mean that we would also synchronize our plans in NATO with those of the USA." The USA wants to start with the withdrawal on May 1st and have it completed by September 11th.
For the Bundeswehr, the most loss-making mission in its history is about to end. 59 German soldiers died in Afghanistan, 35 of them were killed in combat or in attacks. Afghanistan is also the second longest foreign deployment of the German Armed Forces after the Kosovo mission, which began in 1999.