Posted on May 25, 2011 by warvictims
By Major Dennis Sugrue
It is an unfortunate reality of war that innocent civilians are harmed. As a US Army Soldier, I recognize the importance of protecting civilians, especially during combat operations. Despite our care, civilian casualties and property damage do occur. I recall the great initiative that we took in Afghanistan to make amends and offer closure to harmed civilians and their families.
From 2006-2007, I deployed to northern Kunar Province, Afghanistan. This is a mountainous and exceptionally remote area. It is accessible by a single road closed periodically due to rain storms. Rain was infrequent, but came in torrents when it arrived. As part of my duties, I interacted with Afghan civilians who had been injured or lost property due to military actions. Victims would arrive at the gate of our base and, in most cases, I would meet with them. I would listen to their claims, often over tea, and try to determine validity. I would walk valid claims to our pay officer and often make monetary compensation in that same meeting. In these sessions, I also tried to learn about their lives and offer them a glimpse into American life by exchanging stories.
To help these victims, the Army offered compensation or solatia payments. Compensation usually takes the form of monetary payment and medical treatment. Monetary compensations for damaged property, lost livelihoods, or personal injury are somewhat common in Afghanistan. These payments are consistent with cultural norms and important to economic stability, but they can fall short of “making things better.” It was my experience that civilians injured in a warzone often want something far simpler and more valuable – closure. They seek a human connection offering condolence. A sincere apology does more to offer closure than any payment possibly could. Solatia activities should have the ultimate goal to provide a sense of closure for the civilians who suffer losses in combat zones.
Filed under: Afghanistan, Guest Blogger, Major Dennis Sugrue | Tagged: Afghan, Afghanistan, civilian casualties, civilians, conflict, military, United States, US, victims, War, war victims | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 14, 2011 by warvictims
By Catherine Philp
Nine years ago in the bright Kabul spring, I met a young woman called Marla Ruzicka. She was hard to miss, with her wild blonde hair and animal pyjamas peeking out from the hem of her long kameez.
She was harder still to miss the morning she marched to the gates of the American Embassy with astonished, emboldened Afghan families by her side, to demand compensation and apologies for their loved ones lost in American military action. (more…)
Filed under: Afghanistan, Cat Philp, Catherine Philp, Guest Blogger, Nato, Uncategorized | Tagged: Afghan, Afghanistan, CIVIC, civilian casualties, civilians, conflict, human rights, Kabul, military, non-profit, US, War, war victims | 1 Comment »
Posted on December 17, 2009 by warvictims
Posted by Erica G from Kabul
I’ve been in Gardez the last week — a small provincial capitol about
two hours south of Kabul. Security is slightly better than this time
last year, when the community was still reeling from nightly
airstrikes in districts just outside of the city. But reports of
targeting and assassination by the Taliban, raids on homes by
international forces and the Afghan army, and sporadic gunfire
exchanges between one or more of the warring parties or criminals are
Even more concerning, the limited access of many aid workers and the
change in the conflict dynamics means that now as much as ever,
victims of conflict have no way to get help. The Afghan Civilian
Assistance Program is still up and running, and with new staff and
funding authorized they are working hard to reach as many civilians as
possible. But in 2009, the vast majority of civilian deaths have been
due to insurgent attacks, in particular insurgent attacks on Afghan
security forces or government officials. Attacks due to these causes
are not eligible for either ACAP assistance or the limited solatia and
condolence funds that General McChrystal and other US military
officials have been urging troops to use.
Al Qaeda recently announced that it would offer “condolences” for
innocent victims in Afghanistan and other locales. But when you speak
to locals here in Gardez they find the idea that Al Qaeda, the Taliban
or other insurgent groups would give them assistance to be laughable.
Filed under: Afghanistan, Erica, Guest Blogger | Tagged: ACAP, advocacy, Afghan, Afghanistan, aid, assistance, civilian casualties, conflict, insurgents, victims | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 3, 2009 by warvictims
Posted by Erica G from Kabul
The UN issued its mid-year review on civilian deaths this morning. More than 1000 Afghan civilians have been killed so far this year — 24% more than in the first part of 2008. Two key take-aways from the report:
1) Numbers of those killed by insurgent attacks are way up (59% of casualties). It’s not just the number of those killed; the overall number of IEDs and suicide attacks has jumped. Just think about what that does for perceptions of (in)stability in months leading up to Afghanistan’s Presidential and provincial elections.
2) While the percentage of civilians killed by ISAF and Afghan forces is down, the number itself is about the same: 308 killed in the first 6 months of 2008; 310 killed in the first 6 months of 2009. This despite the previous ISAF Commanding General’s December 2008 “Tactical Directive” that was supposed to significantly reduce civilian losses. Let’s hope McChrystal’s TD is more effective.
Put these two facts together and you’ve got the statistical grounding for Afghans’ intuitive mistrust of the way things are going. Your average Afghan doesn’t have to look at numbers to know that more civilians are dying each month and that neither the Afghan government nor international forces have been able to protect civilians from insurgents.
In a month where both sides have said they plan to reduce civilian casualties (see here and here), these numbers are a good reality check of how far there is to go.
Filed under: Afghanistan, Erica, international, US, World | Tagged: Afghan, Afghanistan, civili, civilian, conflict, United States, War, war victims | Leave a Comment »