International forces must act urgently to protect civilians from escalating conflict in Afghanistan, Australian aid agencies said on Friday. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has flied to Portugal for talks on Friday and Saturday with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) leaders and partner nations in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. The call came as 29 aid groups, including Oxfam, Afghan-aid and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), launched a new report on Friday over the situation in the war-torn country. The groups use their Nowhere To Turn report, to urge ISAF to do more to protect civilians and improve training and monitoring for Afghan security forces. This year is the deadliest for Afghani civilians since 2001, with a jump of 31 percent in casualties in the first six months of 2010 alone. The aid agency expressed concern that unless urgent steps are taken now, the violence will continue to escalate in 2011 and civilian suffering will only increase. "Transition of security responsibilities to Afghan forces faces enormous obstacles," Oxfam Australia humanitarian advocacy co- ordinator Beth Eggleston said in a statement on Friday. "There is a grave risk of widespread abuses by the national security forces, which can range from theft and extortion to torture and indiscriminate killing of civilians. "States contributing to ISAF who train, advise, fund and arm those forces share responsibility for making sure this does not happen, but so far we have seen little action on the ground." The report said Afghan police and soldiers are poorly trained and work under weak command systems. It said civilian deaths caused by Afghan security forces are not adequately investigated, while there was no effective means for civilians to make complaints. The report suggested that ISAF should abandon quick fixes, such as community defense initiatives that hand security back to local authorities, and effectively left local militia groups to fight the Taliban alone, with little training or support.