US-brokered negotiations started in September however progress has since slowed and violence has risen sharply.

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan have escalated sharply since peace talks between the federal government and the Taliban armed group started final yr, the United Nations says in a report calling for a ceasefire as negotiators met for the primary time after weeks of inaction.

Afghan civilian casualties totalled 8,820 in 2020, based on the UN mission to Afghanistan’s (UNAMA) annual report launched on Tuesday, a determine 15 % decrease than 2019, however the authors famous with alarm a pointy uptick and traditionally excessive civilian casualties within the closing three months of the yr – because the talks started.

The US-brokered peace talks – set out in an settlement between the Taliban and the US signed in February final yr – started in September, however progress has since slowed and violence risen as uncertainty hovers over whether or not worldwide forces shall be pulled out by Might as initially deliberate.

Final yr “could have been the year of peace in Afghanistan. Instead, thousands of Afghan civilians perished”, stated Deborah Lyons, head of UNAMA, reiterating requires a ceasefire which have been repeatedly rejected by the Taliban.

“Parties refusing to consider a ceasefire must recognise the devastating consequences,” stated Lyons.

The Taliban on Tuesday responded critically to the report, saying: “The concerns, precise information and accurate details that were shared by us have not been taken into account.”

The UN report stated for the primary time since data started, deaths and accidents escalated within the closing three months of the yr from the earlier three months.

Casualties for the fourth quarter have been up 45 % in contrast with the identical interval in 2019.

Most have been ascribed to non-government actors, predominately the Taliban, and greater than one-fifth was attributed to authorities forces.

A authorities spokesman didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

Each side stated on Twitter their chief negotiators met in Doha, Qatar, the venue for peace talks, on Monday night, including that groups would proceed work on an agenda.

After a month-long break over the brand new yr interval, negotiators returned to Doha briefly earlier than many senior members of the Taliban left to carry conferences in Russia and Iran.

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