• 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

  • Advertisements

First news of casualties

Posted By: Erica

I am starting to get some reports of civilian casualties through my Afghan hosts. This morning they passed along the information of a man who lost his father over a year ago. Apparently the father was shopping in the local market of his town when a US convoy passed through. There was some sort of potential attack on the convoy and the man’s father was one of the civilians fatally caught in the crossfire. They have promised to send the man’s contact information along so that I can find out more.

Advertisements

Progress

Posted By: Erica

I mentioned briefly in another post that I’m being hosted by a partner Afghan organization. It’s a large organization, with about 300 staff, largely dispersed in 12 field offices throughout the country. The regional offices work closely with local community and civil society leaders in their provinces, so the organization as a whole has an amazing capacity to know what’s going on at even a small village level throughout Afghanistan. I was talking about this with one of the program managers today and he could devise a reporting system for the different field provinces to note, and perhaps even investigate or help gather the testimony of civilians injured by US or NATO troops. Still many kinks to work out, but if it worked, this would obviously be a great benefit for CIVIC, and for those civilians whose losses would before have gone unnoticed.

Searching for some leads…

Posted By: Erica

Today, I met up with a man whose been working for a big international non-governmental organization here for the last year and a half. His organization has some overlap with CIVIC’s work, and when I mentioned the issue of civilian casualties he said he’d been digging for that information for months and as far as he could tell there was no systematic way of recording or recognizing casualties by any of the US or ISAF troops — good information to have although not exactly the answers we were hoping for.

I heard a similar report from an Afghan-American who is a private contractor involved in getting fuel to US troops. He said he’d be happy to introduce me to some families he knew who had suffered as a result of troop movements so hopefully he’ll make good on that promise to me next week.

Signs of Conflict

Posted By: Erica

My personal situation seems very secure here but the signs that I am in conflict zone are all around me. When I first arrived, my hosts told me about an incident earlier that morning in which a warlord, Gen. D, who also held a high ranking position in the government, stormed into a family’s house with his armed guards and killed the family. Supposedly his case is being referred to the Attorney General, although my Afghan hosts doubt this to be the case. Yesterday, press reports suggested that US and NATO raids in the south of Afghanistan against suspected Taliban resulted in the deaths of several civilians, including women and children.

I have set up several meetings and dinners this week with foreign correspondents. I am hoping that these new friends will help me get the tools I need to investigate incidents like this more closely, and also help me to get the CIVIC’s message out.

Finally in Kabul

Posted By: Erica

I arrived in Kabul yesterday afternoon. An Afghan partner organization here is providing my housing and office space, so they sent out a driver and staff to meet me, help me with my bags and take me to my new home here. In the evening, the Co-Director of the Afghan organization invited about 15 Afghan dignitaries to the house for dinner – all serving in various important positions in the UN offices here, or in the Karzai government.

The conversation was all in Pashtu so I did not catch much, aside from a few one-on-one chats in English with my nearest table guests. Most of the conversation seemed focused on jokes and local gossip, or on the development of different construction projects in Kabul and around Afghanistan. One man in the office of Karzai’s Chief of Staff pulled aside my co-director to see about getting more materials for two girls’ schools he knew about just outside of Kabul. I guess no detail is too small given the needs here. Continue reading

On my way…

Posted By: Erica

I leave on Saturday from Cairo to Dubai, the main port of entry to Kabul. Before I leave, I thought I’d send another quick note on some of the work I hope to accomplish on behalf of CIVIC in Afghanistan.

For those of you have been following CIVIC’s work, you already know there have been some amazing successes. Yet there are still many new opportunities for getting help to the thousands of Afghans who have suffered in the recent conflict. In its last appropriations cycle, Congress announced that it would earmark $2 million for the Post Operations Humanitarian Fund (POHRF). Seven NATO countries have also contributed to the fund aimed at helping victims of NATO combat operations in Afghanistan. (Read more about the POHRF program).

One of my main jobs for CIVIC in Afghanistan will be to dig a little deeper into how these funds are distributed and kept track of – how are the civilian losses recognized and investigated? Are funds distributed ad hoc or is there a system to ensure that they are distributed equitably? What kind of training do soldiers receive in recognizing a claim and ensuring that it is reported to the right person? Continue reading