The United Nations says the number of Afghan civilians, including children, killed in violence has risen by nearly 17 per cent in the first half of this year, compared with the same period in 2013.

A report released Wednesday blames the increase on the fact that the fight is increasingly taking place closer to homes in populated areas. That's a worrying trend as the U.S. and its allies wind down their combat operations by the end of 2014.

The U.N. says that in all, 1,564 civilians were killed from January through June, compared with 1,342 in the first six months of 2013. That includes a 21 per cent jump in the death toll for children, with 295 killed so far this year compared with 243 in the same period the previous year.