Data and Documents

Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan: Data and Documents

This page contains data and documents relating to civilian casualties of the conflict in Afghanistan. The first set were obtained by Science correspondent John Bohannon after embedding with military forces in Kabul and Kandahar in October 2010. Subsequently, both the United Nations and a Kabul-based human rights organization released versions of their own civilian casualty data to Science. In January 2014, the UK Ministry of Defence provided additional ISAF data to Neil Shortland of the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, including permission to use them openly for research collaboration.

These data sets, along with additional documents released by ISAF to help researchers interpret the data, provide the clearest picture yet of the human cost of the war in Afghanistan. Read the collection.

A citation for each data set and document released to Science is provided below indicating its source. Please use the appropriate citation(s) when referring to these materials.

I. Released Casualty Data Sets

1A. CIVCAS (2008-2010)

CIVCAS is a database of civilian casualties created by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the NATO-led military coalition in Afghanistan. These data were provided to Science in January 2011. Therefore this is only a snapshot of CIVCAS from that time, and the numbers may have changed as a result of ongoing ISAF investigations. The tracking of civilian casualties was substantially improved from 2009 onwards. Therefore, data from 2008 should not be directly compared to those from 2009 and 2010. For the full methodology, see CIVCAS Standard Operating Procedure below.

Excel File (109 KB)

Citation: International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), CIVCAS, 13 January 2011; as referred to in J. Bohannon, Science 331, 1256 (2011).

1B. CIVCAS (2010-2013)

The CIVCAS data were extended through 2013 in a release by the UK Ministry of Defence provided additional ISAF data to Neil Shortland of the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. After obtaining permission to share these data for open research collaboration, Shortland shared these data with Science for public release. They are identical in structure to the 2011 CIVCAS release, with the addition of monthly aggregate incidence of violent events by type.

CIVCAS casualties 2010 - 2013 Excel File [CIVCAS_2014_casualties.xlsx]

CIVCAS casualties 2010 - 2013 Excel File [CIVCAS_2014_eventcounts.xlsx]

Citation: International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), CIVCAS, 15 August 2014; as referred to in N. Shortland & J. Bohannon, Science 345, 723 (2014).

2. UNAMA (2008-2010)

These are civilian casualty data collected by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). The data were released to Science in February 2011. A description of the methods used to collect these data are provided in the UNAMA Annual Reports (see below).

Excel File (120 KB)

Citation: United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Civilian Casualty Data, 24 February 2011; as referred to in J. Bohannon, Science 331, 1256 (2011).

3. ARM (2010)

These are civilian casualty data collected by the Kabul-based organization Afghanistan Rights Monitor (ARM). The data were provided to Science in February 2011. The methodology is summarized on page 18 of this ARM Annual Report (pdf) on Civilian Casualties of War January-December 2010. Sources at ARM described the following method: ARM relies on a network of 40 informants distributed across Afghanistan. When an informant reports an incident of civilian casualties, ARM verifies the incident with a second network of government officials and other local sources.

Excel File (82 KB)

Citation: Afghanistan Rights Monitor, Afghanistan Civilian Casualty Record, 20 February 2011; as referred to in J. Bohannon, Science 331, 1256 (2011).


II. ISAF Maps and Troop Deployment

1. ISAF Troop Numbers 2008 - 2010

These data represent the best available time series of monthly troop numbers in Afghanistan from 2008 - 2010. They were provided to Science by ISAF in January 2011. ISAF officials note that the true number of troops on active duty can vary from these monthly numbers by up to 3%.

Excel File (28 KB)

Citation: International Security Assistance Force, ISAF Troop Numbers 2008 - 2010, 14 January 2011; as referred to in J. Bohannon, Science 331, 1256 (2011).

2. Placemat Reports 2007 - 2010

ISAF provides a periodic "Placemat" report of the currently deployed forces in Afghanistan. These reports are a valuable resource for interpreting the CIVCAS data. They show the location and changing national leadership of the regional commands, as well as the distribution of nationalities among ISAF troops. The total troop numbers in these reports can differ substantially from the true numbers (see ISAF Troop Numbers above).

Zip File (16.5 MB)

Citation: International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Placemat Reports 2007 - 2010, 28 November 2010; as referred to in J. Bohannon, Science 331, 1256 (2011).


III. Additional Resources

1. ISAF Civilian Casualty Standard Operating Procedure

ISAF provided this document to Science in February 2011. It is an extract from a larger document which is classified. It describes the methodology for collecting and reporting civilian casualty data up the chain of command. ISAF officials note that a "very small proportion" of the casualties recorded in CIVCAS are initially reported from outside sources, such as local Afghan government officials, rather than ISAF soldiers.

PDF (509 KB)

Citation: International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Civilian Casualty (CIVCAS) Standard Operating Procedure, 23 February 2011; as referred to in J. Bohannon, Science 331, 1256 (2011).

2. UNAMA Reports (2008 - 2010)

These reports include the methodology for the civilian casualty data collected by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). They also provide valuable background and context for the conflict in Afghanistan and its impact on the civilian population.

UNAMA Web Site

3. Afghanistan Casualty Timeline (2008 - 2010)

The different data sets provided here are multiple observations of a single phenomenon: the death and injury of civilians in Afghanistan. Ultimately, they must be compared to the public record of individual events. This timeline is a first attempt to compare the casualties in CIVCAS to civilian casualties reported by the media, most of which are addressed by military press releases.

Excel File (69 KB)

Citation: S. Carran, A. Ravindar, S.Y. Lau, J. Bohannon, Afghanistan Casualty Timeline (2008 - 2010), 11 March 2011; as referred to in J. Bohannon, Science 331, 1256 (2011).


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