Monday, July 09, 2007

UN Says More Afghan Civilians Killed By NATO Led Mission Than by The Taliban

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (IRIN) have reported that the war in Afghanistan is resulting in a growing number of civilian casualties, and that NATO led forces are now responsible for more civilian deaths than the Taliban they are fighting.
A spokesman for the UN in Afghanistan, Adrian Edwards, said on 2 July: “The overall number of deaths attributed to pro-government forces, which include the ANA [Afghan National Army], ANP [Afghan National Police], NDS [National Directorate of Security] and international military forces, marginally exceeds that caused by anti-government forces”.
The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) has reported that so far this year, over 270 civilians have been killed in military operations by international forces. Over 270 non-combatants have also died in Taliban attacks. A total figure of around 600 civilian deaths has also been reported, but a large margin of uncertainty exists around these tallies.

Along with the UN, ICRC and others, AIHRC are calling for restraint and a change of tactics from the waring parties. “We call upon the Taliban, US military, ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] and all other parties involved in the conflict to reduce the impact of their military operations on Afghan children,” said Najibullah Babrakzai, a children protection officer for AIHRC.

The call has received a limited response. Buisness as usual with widespread use of US airpower seems set to continue, at least according to
the reaction from US Brig. Gen. Joseph Votel reported by AP.
"We think the procedures that we have in place are good," Brig. Gen. Joseph Votel told a Pentagon press conference. "They work, they help us minimize the effects" on civilians, he said.
The latest statements from the UN strongly contradict the US assertion. They follow on from a recognition that not enough was being done to monitor and account for casualties caused in the conflict. In May, the UN announced that they were setting up a database of casualties. While the detailed information from this database appears to be kept out of the public domain, perhaps the existence of this initiative has at least facilitated a more robust position from the UN mission. This has to be welcomed.