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Afghan security force members inspect the site of an explosion in Kabul. Photo: Sayed Mominzadah/Xinhua via Getty Images

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan have hit record highs amid the U.S. troop withdrawal from the country, the UN said in a report released Monday.

Why it matters: The report, which documented more than 1,650 civilians deaths in the first half of 2021, provides a "clear warning" that an unprecedented number of Afghan civilians "will perish and be maimed this year if the increasing violence is not stemmed," Deborah Lyons, the secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan, said in a statement.

By the numbers: Afghanistan recorded 1,659 civilian deaths and 3,254 injuries in the first six months of this year, a 47% increase from the same period last year, according to the report.

  • In May and June alone, nearly 800 civilians were killed and more than 1,600 were wounded — the highest number of casualties for those months since the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan began its systematic documentation in 2009.
  • Women and children made up nearly half of the civilian casualties, per the report.
  • More than 460 children were killed and 1,214 wounded.

The big picture: The U.S.-NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan is about 95% complete, with the U.S. mission in the country slated to end on Aug. 31.

  • The U.S. departure has coincided with large territorial gains by the Taliban and a sharp uptick in violence.
  • A regional U.S. commander said Sunday that the military has stepped up its airstrikes against the Taliban and will continue to do so in the weeks ahead.

What they're saying: “I implore the Taliban and Afghan leaders to take heed of the conflict’s grim and chilling trajectory and its devastating impact on civilians," Lyons, said.

Go deeper: U.S. offers more air support to Afghan forces in fight against Taliban

Go deeper

Updated Sep 16, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

Iowa projected to help resettle hundreds of Afghan refugees

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Iowa will help resettle between 350 to 400 Afghan refugees, according to projections provided to Axios by resettlement agencies and a state official this week.

Why it matters: President Biden's administration is processing and resettling tens of thousands of Afghans across the United States over the next several weeks — and we're starting to get a better idea of Iowa's role in the efforts.

Swing voters' split feelings about Afghanistan

An Afghanistan flag waves in front of the U.S. Capitol on Aug. 28. Photo: Liz Lynch/Getty Images

Some swing voters say they're deeply disappointed with the execution of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Yes, but: They don't believe former President Trump would have handled it better than President Biden, and the issue is far less important to them than getting the pandemic under control.

State Department partners with aid group welcoming Afghan refugees to U.S.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaking in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 14. Photo: Mandel Ngan-Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Thursday that the State Department is partnering with Welcome.US, an aid group helping to welcome and support Afghan refugees who fled their country for the U.S.

Why it matters: The partnership is part of the Biden administration's Operation Allies Welcome, which involves the processing and resettlement of the more than 65,000 Afghans evacuated during the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan.