Civilian casualties in Afghanistan rose by 22% in 2014, a report from the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has revealed.
The 2014 Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict documented 3,699 deaths and 6,849 injuries, which are the highest such numbers recorded since 2009.
Prepared in coordination with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the report states that civilian deaths and injuries from ground operations rose by 54%.
Those involved in the conflict have reportedly used improvised explosive devices such as mortars, rockets and grenades, sometimes indiscriminately, during ground engagements in civilian-populated areas.
UN Secretary-General Special Representative for Afghanistan and UNAMA head Nicholas Haysom said: "Rising civilian deaths and injuries in 2014 attest to a failure to fulfil commitments to protect Afghan civilians from harm.
"Parties to the conflict should understand the impact of their actions and take responsibility for them, uphold the values they claim to defend and make protecting civilians their first priority.
"We need to see concrete steps and a real drop in civilian casualties in 2015."
According to the report, anti-government elements were responsible for 72% of civilian deaths and injuries, followed by the Afghan National Security Forces with 12% and international military forces on 2%. A further 10% was attributed to ground engagements between anti-government rebels and Afghan forces.
In addition, explosive remnants of war claimed 4%.
The report claims that women and children were hit particularly hard, with 2,474 children casualties and a 21% increase for women.
UNAMA also noted a significant increase in human rights abuses from pro-government armed groups in the north, north-east and south-east regions of Afghanistan, as well as by the Taliban.
Image: An internally displaced camp in Balkh Province, northern Afghanistan. Photo: courtesy of UNAMA / Eric Kanalstein.