• 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

VIDEO BLOG: We’ve arrived in Israel

Posted By: Marla B.

CIVIC arrives in Israel.

VIDEO BLOG: South Lebanon

Posted By: Marla B.

CIVIC’s executive director, Sarah Holewinski, discusses our recent trip to South Lebanon.

NOTE: There are fewer videos from Lebanon as we had a hard time uploading. As we create the entire story you will see our equal coverage of both sides.

Lebanon to Israel… via Jordan

Posted By: Sarah

We’re in Israel now, but only just. Having grown fond of the many wonderful people we met in southern Lebanon, our departure seemed to come almost too soon.

Still, we were able to accomplish so much in those five days. The devastation suffered by civilians in war is gut wrenching to see up close. We’ve been shown photos of burning bodies, walked through bombed out buildings, had a little girl explain to us how she was taught avoid cluster munitions on the way to school. Marla has been capturing it all on video, so be sure to scroll down to watch the clips.

Particularly endearing is a little boy you’ll meet when we have the bandwidth to post the video. He’s about 8 or 9 years old, living in Qana – a town that suffered the deaths of 120 women and children hiding out in a UN building in 1996. The town was hit hard again in the 2006 war, after which this little boy picked up a cluster dud that caught fire and severely burned his back. We lifted up his shirt and saw the mangled flesh, now made somewhat better by doctors.

More soon… Cheers all, Sarah

Provincial Reconstruction Teams, Pt. 3

Posted By: Erica

As I mentioned in the last two posts, PRTs (the military outposts across Afghanistan) often have discretionary funds to help them do projects in their surrounding communities. This is particularly true for American PRTs, who tend to be better funded than other NATO countries. Sometimes money isn’t enough though, particularly when it comes to doing sensitive humanitarian work.

I was sitting at home a few nights ago when one of the U.S. Army Sergeants I met briefly on a PRT visit called my mobile. I had briefed him on the US-funded program to help war victims (ACAP), but I quickly realized that he was calling about a very different problem. Continue reading

Greetings from Bint J’Bail…

Posted By: Sarah and Marla B.

We are traveling throughout southern Lebanon right now. This photo was taken by our ‘fixer’ Salim in Bint J’Bail. This area was hit particularly hard in the 2006 war.

Sarah and Marla B in Southern Lebanon

We have had limited access to internet here but keep reading because we will send more photos and video blogs soon! Plus, watch for a new post from Erica out in Afghanistan.

CIVIC in Lebanon!

Posted By: Sarah and Marla B.

We wanted to send you an update on our first day in Lebanon. After landing last night and spending a couple of hours finalizing a grant proposal, we arose bright and early this morning to a day packed full of meetings. As we prepare for our trip to Southern Lebanon – where most of the civilian casualties occurred in the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel – we’re feverishly obtaining information from our contacts here. What’s most clear is the complexity of the situation.

Two of our contacts today described the country as a ‘juxtapose’. With every step forward, there is a step back. As we sat at a lovely outdoor cafe in downtown Lebanon, Gilbert, a witty and articulate founder of a local NGO mused: It is easy to think that this is how all of Lebanon is, but it is simply not true.

So, over the next five days, we set out not to define this country but to better understand its people and what they endured – particularly how those harmed in the 2006 war were helped and if they have been helped at all. We want to know who helped them, why and what they still need. To be sure, it’s a challenge, but one that we’ll tackle as we continue to expand to new regions of conflict – ones that don’t always have the simplest of answers.

Provincial Reconstruction Teams, pt. 2

Posted By: Erica

In some conflicts, PRT involvement in humanitarian aid is essential because the area is too dangerous for civilian aid workers. Especially in the immediate wake of combat operations, only the military may have access to a civilian community. This is where things get tricky in war. While it is always the right thing for warring parties to support aid for civilians they harm, this aid does not always have to be directly given by the military. In fact, in some cases, military involvement may do more harm than good. It has the potential to blur the line between civilian aid workers and combatants, putting humanitarians at greater risk. It also may not be as welcomed by the community. As one United Nations officer (and former British military colonel) here told me: “Imagine you’re a civilian and one day the military comes in with their guns and blow up part of your village and the next day they come back, still fully armed, to hand you food and water.”

On a more practical note, military units likely will not have the training or resources to take on the many complicated and medium- to long-term humanitarian aid projects that are needed in post-conflict zones like Afghanistan. US units are only deployed for a year and many NATO military units are here for only 6 months — barely enough time to get settled much less learn the ins and outs of Afghan communities and the spiderweb of governmental and non-governmental programs available to work with them.

I received a harsh reminder of this a few days ago when I got a call about three recently orphaned children and the PRT that was trying to help them out — a story which I’ll share in the next posting.