• 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.

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  • 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

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On to Paris…

Posted By: Erica

On June 12, the French government will host 60 major donors, foreign governments and non-governmental actors, at the Paris Donor Conference for Afghanistan. The Afghan government will be asking the international community to commit to $50 billion in aid for the coming years.  We at CIVIC wanted to make sure that at least part of that commitment goes to help those Afghan families and communities caught in the past and ongoing conflict. This weekend I attended the civil society forum on Afghanistan, where NGOs and members of the private sector had a nominal opportunity to provide recommendations and guidance for those representatives deciding the international community’s commitment in June.
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GUEST BLOG: At the Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions

Posted By: Marc Garlasco, Senior Military Analyst, HRW and CIVIC Board Member

Here I am in Dublin at the massive Croke Park Stadium, with nearly one thousand diplomats and campaigners to write the text of a treaty banning cluster munitions. I never would have thought this event was possible just three or four years ago, and yet here we are about to ban one of the most dangerous weapons to civilians caught up in war.

From day one, I had reason to be optimistic. The media was in a frenzy and the Pope came out supporting the ban in this Catholic nation – that was some big news. But even knowing that we would have some kind of ban didn’t mean we’d have the ban we wanted. The treaty we’re here to create could get watered down by the Americans. The United States isn’t formally here (there are no official representatives) but there are surrogates attending, and while nobody will say “the Americans don’t want this” everyone knows it.

Like any conference, the real work happens in the hallways. I’ve spent my coffee breaks and lunches handing off documents and gathering information – like passing notes in high school. To get all 100+ countries here on board, we keep an eye on which country delegates are having coffee together and if their positions change after their caffeine fix.

After a somber week spent arguing about this or that detail we’re finally making some headway. France announced it would destroy all its cluster rockets (about 80% of all French cluster munitions). That’s the kind of leadership we’re looking for! The UK’s Gordon Brown directed his Ministry Of Defence to reassess their current cluster munitions. It just may signal a willingness to get rid of the M85 they used in Iraq and the CRV-7 they are so adamantly defending here. In the past they defended these weapons, but I’ve seen firsthand the civilian harm they cause. And after some Western nations demanded time to use their stockpiled bombs before the ban, the rest of the world rejected the request – first Mexico, then Mauritania, Costa Rica, Cooke Islands, Togo, on and on. For the first time, we actually heard applause break up the dark mood.

I am seeing more and more delegations scurrying off to call their capitals for instructions. We have to get this settled soon… time is short.

Indiscriminate use of force

Posted By: Erica

On March 4, 2007, a US Marine convoy killed 19 Afghan civilians and wounded 50 others in one of the worst incidents of indiscriminate fire on Afghan civilians. Fleeing the scene of a suicide bomb attack in Jalalabad city, the Marines fired arbitrarily at passing civilians on the crowded highway, including those civilians who had pulled over to the side of the road to let the convoy pass.
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UN Special Rapporteur speaks out

Posted By: Erica

For the past two weeks the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary executions has been in Afghanistan on a fact-finding mission (See here for a Special Rapporteur definition). His mandate is to look into all violations of the “right to life” in Afghanistan, and provide recommendations for improving respect for this international obligation. Continue reading

A sad story…

Posted By: Erica

Today [May 18, 2008] I received the following, very sad story in an email from one of the co-workers at my Afghan NGO:

Today at noontime one of the women who works with our Helmand treatment center as a social worker popped in with a few questions. At the polite – to Afghans – question from someone about her family, she dissolved into tears. Three of them, sons, died from bombs dropped from planes – and for some reason (we didn’t ask, but suspect enmity) her husband was taken away by American troops, first to Bagram and then who-knows-where.

Aiding Garmsir’s refugees

Posted By: Erica

Since the end of April, hundreds of Afghan families have fled the Garmsir region of Helmand province due to fighting between insurgents and US-led forces. High estimates by the Afghan Red Crescent Society and by the UN agency for refugees in Afghanistan have suggested that as many as 1000 families have fled. Other media and NGO sources I spoke to reported displacement of a few hundred families. The US military spokeswoman I spoke to, Kelly Frushour, suggested the military only saw a few hundred people displaced. Continue reading

Tora Bora, Part 2

Posted By: Erica

When I met Nazir and Amin they were doing much better – they had received assistance from ACAP (the US funded program that supports war victims) that allowed them to run their own family grocery businesses. Although they were satisfied with the assistance and their current situation, I could not help worrying about the effectiveness of such aid so many years after the initial incident. Nazir and Amin did not receive assistance until seven years after their family members died at Tora Bora. That’s because the program didn’t exist when they were first harmed. Now aid gets to families quickly, but back then, they were left with nothing for too long. So, even if it was the right thing to do, I wondered if all these years later the assistance was too little, too late? Continue reading