Ban Ki-moon issues dire warning for Afghanistan

July 1, 2009

UNITED NATIONS (UPI) -- Afghanistan could witness unprecedented levels of violence as U.S. and international forces push further into the country, the UN secretary-general warns.

In his latest report on Afghanistan, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon complained that the number of civilian casualties had reached new highs.
“The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan recorded 800 civilian casualties between January and May 2009, mostly in the south, southeast and eastern regions of the country,” he said.
Ban points to a May attack by U.S. forces in the Bala Bulok district of Farah province that killed more than 60 civilians. He praised, however, comments by top American generals pledging a review of the rules of engagement to eliminate the occurrence of civilian casualties in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, John Holmes, a relief coordinator with the United Nations, said May was one of the deadliest months for non-combatants, with 261 dead.
The report, however, noted that more than 55 percent of all deaths reported in Afghanistan were due to insurgent activity with around 30 percent attributed to international and Afghan forces.
Finally, Ban warned that with U.S. and international forces increasing their presence in the country and as Afghanistan prepares for its provincial and parliamentary elections in August, the situation could take a turn for the worse.
“The next period will likely experience an increase in the level of violence compared with the same period last year, including complex suicide attacks, intimidation and assassinations carried out by insurgents,” he said in his report.