Friday, February 25, 2011

Afghan Officials Claim NATO killed 62 civilians

On Sunday (20 February) Afghan President Hamid Karzai accused NATO of having killed more than 50 civilians in eastern Afghanistan's troubled Kunar province. A team was sent to investigate the alleged civilian deaths.

"After three days of investigation, we found out that 62 civilians, including women and children, were killed and 10 others injured in the NATO operation," the head of the probe team, Shahzada Massoud, who is a Karzai adviser, told reporters in Kunar.

Reuters carries a story about the real impact of a night-time raid that took place in August. It is the story of Abdullah. The killing of his father and brother, and his interrogation.

A few minutes and a few bullets were enough to turn Abdullah from an 11th grade student with dreams of becoming a translator to the despairing head of a family of more than a dozen.

A Big Picture Resource

Afghanistan Rights Monitor Annual Report on Civilian Casualties

Over nine years after the internationally-celebrated demise of the repressive Taliban regime in Afghanistan, civilian Afghans increasingly suffer from the armed violence and rights violations committed by various internal and external armed actors. More ordinary Afghans were killed and injured in 2010 than a year before. And while US officials dubbed Afghanistan as their longest foreign war, Afghans suffered it for 32 years relentlessly.

Almost everything related to the war surged in 2010: the combined numbers of Afghan and foreign forces surpassed 350,000; security incidents mounted to over 100 per week; more fighters from all warring side were killed; and the number of civilian people killed, wounded and displaced hit record levels.

Collecting information about every security incident and verifying the often conflicting reports about their impacts on civilian people were extremely difficult and risky. The war was as heatedly fought through propaganda and misinformation as it was in the battlefields thus making independent and impartial war reporting tricky and complex.


In addition to civilian casualties, hundreds of thousands of people were affected in various ways by the intensified armed violence in Afghanistan in 2010. Tens of thousands of people were forced out of their homes or deprived of healthcare and education services and livelihood opportunities due to the continuation of war in their home areas.

In November 2010, ARM was the first organization to voice concerns about the destruction of hundreds of houses, pomegranate trees and orchards in several districts in Kandahar Province by US-led forces as part of their counterinsurgency operations. In January 2011, an Afghan Government delegation reported the damage costs at over US$100 million. In compensation, US/NATO forces have doled out less than $2 million.


A second key issue highlighted in this report is the emergence of the irregular armed groups in parts of Afghanistan which are backed by the Afghan Government and its foreign allies. These groups have been deplored as criminal and predatory by many Afghans and have already been accused of severe human rights violations such as child recruitment and sexual abuse.

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Afghanistan 101 is a blog of the American Friends Service Committee
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