• 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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GUEST BLOGGER: In the wake of a suicide bomb… Pt. 2

Posted By: Rebecca A., working with CIVIC’s Erica in Afghanistan

Read Part 1…

Fortunately for Abdul’s family, the family was identified by the Afghan Civilian Assistance Program (ACAP). The program paid for the younger brother to have training in woodworking and assisted him in setting up his own woodworking shop that could support the family.

If you recall, ACAP was created by Senator Leahy with the help of our own Marla Ruzicka. It helps war victims unintentionally created by the US military and its allies here in Afghanistan.

I visited the house recently and was led into a separate gathering room dedicated to Abdul. The younger son put his new skills to work to build a sitting room in commemoration of the many friendships his older brother left behind. In the room, you can hear the hours of laughing, talking and weeping that take place in that room. It’s a room that represents both the past and the future of one family.

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Herat and a meeting with survivors…

Posted By: Erica

We arrived in Herat today — the largest city in Western region of Afghanistan, not far from the Iranian border — where we met with the Regional Command West (RCWest), the regional headquarters for ISAF. RCWest has been trying to use money from the Post-Operations Humanitarian Relief Fund [read our recent press release] to get emergency relief to different areas of the province that are suffering the effects of recent and ongoing operations. We also met with the Italian Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), which head up medium- to long-term development and reconstruction projects for the province. It was striking how dedicated and involved these CIMIC (Civil Military Coordinators) were in finding ways for the international forces to bring emergency relief, stabilization and reconstruction support to the Western region.

In complete and tragic contrast, though, I then ended my day by meeting several survivors of the July 17 US bomb strike on the Zerkoh community of Shindand province. The site of the bombing is still too insecure to know the final damage toll – residents I interviewed said that military forces still prevented them from returning to see the damage to their homes and communities. Initial estimates, though, suggest as many as 50 civilians may have been killed. The same community was hit in April 2007 by US air strikes, killing an estimated 59 civilians, injuring 62, and destroying or severely damaging an estimated 110 houses.

Civilian losses like these in one stroke can undo all the good intentions of the CIMIC teams at RCWest or the PRTs. I asked one of the civilian survivors what his impression was of international forces after the recent bombing of his community, “I used to think that [the international forces] would not use force on civilian people. Now I see that it has changed. They are killing all people; they don’t care if it is civilians or the bad guys. They think all Afghans are the same. They see it all from the same lens.”

GUEST BLOGGER: In the wake of a suicide bomb… Pt. 1

Posted By: Rebecca A., working with CIVIC’s Erica in Afghanistan

Karim, sits in his salon fingering photographs of his son, Abdul. The love-worn pictures show a striking 18-year-old, his arms thrown around the shoulders of friends, both Afghan and U.S. military. On February 27, 2007, the day of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney’s visit to Bagram Air Base, Abdul was assigned to translate for a foreign civilian woman accompanying the U.S. military. A waiting suicide bomber spotted them in front of Bagram’s gates. The suicide bomber ran up, hugged the woman, and detonated himself. Twenty-three people were killed in the explosion, Abdul among them.

“My son was standing with the woman [who was targeted],” Karim said. “His head, body parts…everything was blown to pieces. All detached from his body…I could only recognize that it was him by the clothes he wore, by his hair, and by his boots.”

No one from the U.S. military offered condolences; no one even assisted in the transport of Abdul’s body. Instead, neighbors and friends collected the remains and brought them to Karim. The violence of the explosion destroyed almost any resemblance to his beloved son.

Abdul was engaged to be married, but now the family began planning his funeral. Having lost its primary breadwinner, they could barely cover funeral expenses. Karim worried about how to feed his family. Too old to work himself, and with one son already married with his own children, Karim saw caring for the three daughters and two sons still at home as almost impossible.

VIDEO: The Grocer

Posted By: Marla B.

During the 2006 war nearly all businesses in the north of Israel closed. Many Israelis fled their homes here, heading south staying with friends, family and even occasionally strangers willing to take them in.

In Kiryat Shmona, a town close to the Lebanese boarder, this man stayed behind and tended to one of the few grocery stores that remained open to serve its neighbors.

He tells the story here of his experience and of the war’s lasting psychological effects on him and his family.

For more on the 2006 conflict in Lebanon and Israel, and long-term aftermath, visit: http://www.civic-israel-lebanon.org/

VIDEO: Bint Jbeil, War’s Lasting Damage

Posted By: Marla B.

Perched on a hilltop overlooking a lush valley on the other side of which is Isreal, Bint Jbeil was considered a ‘Hizbollah stronghold’ during the 2006 war.

Two major battles took place there. The first began early in the morning on July 25, 2006 with heavy gun volleys between the Israeli Defense Forces and Hizbollah fighters. The fighting lasted four days. The second battle began on the evening of August 6th and lasted to August 14th, when finally a tentative ceasefire agreement was signed.

All through the town, there is no mistaking war had been here. Buildings, still in rubble, streets with pock holes from mortars and missiles. Nearly two years after the war, the town still bears its deep scars.

For more on the 2006 conflict in Lebanon and Israel, and long-term aftermath, visit: http://www.civic-israel-lebanon.org/

VIDEO: Haifa Train Depot

Posted By: Marla B.

Haifa’s train depot was the scene of the deadliest attack in Israel during the 2006 war with Hizbollah. On July 16, shortly after nine in the morning missiles rained down on the city. One directly struck the train depot killing eight workers inside.

We visited the train depot in the hopes of getting inside to interview other workers or people who had survived the missile attack. We were turned away but found a mechanic across the street who received us warmly with stout coffee and offered his eyewitness account of what happened that day.

For more on the 2006 conflict in Lebanon and Israel, and long-term aftermath, visit: http://www.civic-israel-lebanon.org/

VIDEO: Mahdi’s Story, Lebanon

Posted By: Marla B.

On a Thursday morning we left Tyre and traveled south to visit with more survivors and survey some of the other small towns. The first one we came to was Qana. Lebanese Christians believe this is where Jesus performed his first miracle, turning water to wine.

Qana also has a long, sad history of conflict. Perhaps most notably in 1996, when an Israeli missile attack hit a UN tent where the townspeople had fled for safety. Israel claimed a rocket launcher had been located nearby making the tent a viable target, but more than 100 civilians died that day.

In the 2006 war, Qana was peppered with clusters throughout the town and surrounding hills. This is the story of one small survivor.

For more on the 2006 conflict in Lebanon and Israel, and long-term aftermath, visit: http://www.civic-israel-lebanon.org/