• About CIVIC

    CIVIC is a Washington-based non-profit organization that believes the civilians injured and the families of those killed should be recognized and helped by the warring parties involved.

    On this blog, you will find stories from our travels around the world as we meet with civilians and military, aid organizations and government in our quest to get war victims the help they need.

  • Countries

  • Contributors

    Sarah, Executive Director

    Marla B, Managing Director

    Kristele, Field Director

    Liz, Chief Communications Officer

    Trevor, CIVIC's fellow based in Afghanistan

    Chris, CIVIC's fellow based in Pakistan

    Jon, CIVIC's US military consultant

  • Media Content

Libya after Khadafy is littered with massive amounts of abandoned deadly weapons

Nicolette Boehland, currently in Libya as a CIVIC fellow, blogs for the Boston Globe on the use of weapons in Libya.  She is part of a team from Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic that authored Explosive Situation: Qaddafi’s Abandoned Weapons and the Threat to Civilians in partnership with CIVIC and Center for American Progress.

Read her blog for the Boston Globe here!

Images from the Syrian border

Photographer Nicole Tung accompanied a CIVIC team to the Lebanese border of Syria to speak with refugees in June 2012.  The following images and captions from Nicole are from that trip; CIVIC’s findings from these interviews, and others in Jordan, are here.

We’ll be posting more of Nicole’s photos and CIVIC interviews with civilians on Facebook and twitter–follow us for more!

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Afghanistan’s war victims: Zalmay’s story

Trevor Keck is CIVIC’s field fellow, based in Kabul, Afghanistan.  He is assessing Afghan National Security Force preparedness to protect civilians after NATO and its allies withdraw.

Here’s the story of Zalmay, a boy living in a very small village on the border with Pakistan.  Assadullah – the boy’s uncle – told me his story at a local radio station in Jalalabad, where we met.

Just after international forces invaded Afghanistan in 2001, the Taliban came to Zalmay’s house while retreating back over the border into Pakistan. They killed Zalmay’s father and wounded his mother so badly she was permanently disabled.  Zalmay was only two years old.

Assadullah doesn’t know why the Taliban targeted Zalmay’s family. He wonders if  it might be that Zalmay’s father had been a senior military commander in the communist regime that preceded the Taliban.  When the Taliban came to power, Zalmay’s father no longer had a place in the military and turned to woodcutting to provide for his family.

Without a breadwinner, Assadullah began taking care of Zalmay, his mother, and his two sisters, which he has done for more than ten years.  Now a teenager, Assadullah is training Zalmay in his shop to work as a car mechanic.  Zalmay is now the only male in his immediate family, which means that he must work to support his mother and two sisters instead of going to school like a typical teenager.  His destiny is that of manual labor.

Taking care of Zalmay’s family as well as his own is a financial burden for Assadullah, who hopes that one day Zalmay will be able to open up his own shop and be self – sufficient.  Financial assistance from the Afghan government would be extremely helpful for both Assadullah’s and Zalmay’s families, which are entirely dependent on Assadullah to survive.

Assadullah also said he wanted the international community and the Afghan government to “make good on their promises.”  For Assadullah, that means peace, economic opportunities and good governance.  According to him, only the politically connected get help from the Afghan government; it doesn’t work for everyone.

“We are so tired of war…I am 35 years old and I haven’t seen a good day in my life,” Assadullah told me with a look of despair.

Voices from the Field: Who are Afghanistan’s War Victims?

Trevor Keck is CIVIC’s field fellow, based in Kabul, Afghanistan.  He is assessing Afghan National Security Force preparedness to protect civilians after NATO and its allies withdraw.

A few weeks ago, I wrote briefly about my trip to Jalalabad, a city in eastern Afghanistan, where I researched civilian casualties.  I spoke to numerous Afghan officials and more than a dozen civilians harmed by warring parties in Afghanistan.

The next posts are what I heard from some victims of the conflict in Afghanistan.  I’ll start today with Tahir’s story as told to me by his father.

Tahir and his family live in a very rural part of Nangarhar province, situated in eastern Afghanistan between Kabul and the Pakistani border.  Tahir is eleven years old and, until recently, loved going to school and playing cricket with his friends.

About two weeks before I spoke to him, Tahir set out to visit his father – a farmer – who was tending to his fields at the time.  He never made it there. On his way, Tahir stepped on a roadside bomb, presumably set by the Taliban or another armed group.  The blast knocked him out and even now, Tahir barely remembers what happened. After the explosion, local villagers who saw the incident rushed him to the hospital in Jalalabad, where I interviewed him.

When I met him, he was in a lot of pain and heavily medicated, suffering wounds on his right arm, his legs and his stomach.  Thankfully, the doctor at the hospital told me he was stable and the physical wounds would heal.  What kind of mental trauma Tahir will suffer remains to be seen.

Tahir was in a lot of pain so he didn’t talk much.  But his father told me that his son doesn’t like the hospital and “just wants to go home.”

Remembering Chris Hondros

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since our friend and steadfast CIVIC supporter Chris Hondros was killed while on assignment in Misrata, Libya.  Chris was a Pulitzer Prize nominated photojournalist who covered most of the worlds major conflicts beginning in the late 90s.  Chris covered conflicts, but his real passion was capturing the people affected by them.  Chris’ images of civilians struggling to survive amidst bullets and bombs gave us all an immediate understanding of the gravity of war. You’ve likely seen his images on the front page of flagship newspapers such as the New York Times, Washington Post and numerous others.

But what you may not have known was that Chris’ work has been the visual representation of what we do here at CIVIC since 2005.  He gave us his images so we could tell the story of  war victims and why our work matters.

His commitment to the cause of humanizing war lives on in a partnership with The Chris Hondros Fund established by his fiancee Christina Piaia.  The Fund will raise awareness and educate the public about the work of photojournalists.  Click here to learn more about Chris and the Fund: http://www.chrishondrosfund.org/index.html

Below are a few of his incredible images.

 

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Honoring Marla Ruzicka: One individual who changed war for many

Seven years ago, the world lost a passionate advocate for civilians caught in the crossfire. Today, CIVIC will have a moment of silence in remembrance of our founder Marla Ruzicka and her Iraqi colleague Faiz Ali Salim.  We’ll pause our work at 2 PM EST, and we invite you to do the same.

Marla’s life is an example of the impact one committed individual can have. We honor her legacy every day by working to make warring parties more responsible to civilians in war. We train troops to prevent civilian harm. We work with warring parties to create civilian tracking and response systems, so they learn from mistakes and know who to help. And when military intervention is considered, as it may be in Syria, we remind them of the potential civilian cost.

Please take a moment today to remember her work and commitment to civilians in conflict

What We Should All Want to Know about a Military Intervention for Syria

On the blog for Article 3 Advisors, CIVIC’s Sarah Holewinski looks at military intervention in Syria and the questions all strategists should be asking: “If military intervention becomes the only way to protect civilians from this regime, there are a few things I want Turkey, the US, NATO, or any other military volunteer to be asking and answering before they utter the word Tomahawk.”

Read the full blog here.

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