• 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

PAKISTAN: Figuring out Pakistan

By Chris

As many of you know, CIVIC documented the stories of civilians in conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, and ensured they received help.  Now we hope to do the same in Pakistan.

As CIVIC’s representative in Pakistan I’ll document civilian harm in the current armed conflict and advocate for assistance to the people suffering losses.

One of our partners here is the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan  (HRCP, http://hrcpblog.wordpress.com/), a well-respected human rights organization with offices throughout the country.  HRCP’s activities cover a wide range of human rights issues in Pakistan, including protection of civilians in conflict.

My first goal here is to map what help currently exists for war victims—both Pakistani and international.  In the coming weeks I’ll meet with a wide range of people, from humanitarians to government officials, to learn more about what assistance is being offered and what gaps exist. We don’t want to see any civilian left without recognition and help.

PAKISTAN: Arrival and Recent Developments

Posted by Chris

Finally arrived in Pakistan last week and began work.  Let me begin by giving you a quick snapshot of the situation here.

After a relatively calm couple of months, the past two weeks have seen a marked increase in violence.  Nearly 200 people were killed in a spate of militant attacks, including many civilians.  This recent wave of attacks began with the bombing of the World Food Program office in Islamabad on 5 Oct.

A few days ago, the Pakistani military began its long-awaited offensive into the militant stronghold of South Waziristan.  Folks around me in Islamabad were right to be worried about retaliatory attacks, given today’s suicide bombings at the University.  The mood is tense.  Security checkpoints have grown and are more thorough, roads have been blocked, and many schools have been closed.

The Pakistanis I speak with all express dismay and anger with the situation.  For them, this level of violence is new.  Terrorist attacks in the cities, like Islamabad and Lahore, were unheard of before last year.

There is very little information about what is going on in Waziristan.  The offensive is all over the newspapers and television, but because of its remote location, the insecurity and restrictions on access imposed by the military, information is very hard to come by.  What is known is that there is intense fighting and tens of thousands of civilians have already fled, while many more remain within the conflict zone.  Some are predicting the operation to last two months.

Civilians will undoubtedly suffer.  We know that from thousands of years of war around the world. Hopefully with improved access and information, we can do more to bring attention to the plight of displaced civilians and those within the conflict zone.  And if history is any lesson, providing civilians with the assistance they need to rebuild their lives will be critical to the Pakistani government’s long-term success in Waziristan.

PAKISTAN: CIVIC Fellow Headed to Pakistan

Posted by Chris, CIVIC Fellow

Hi everyone!  I’m excited to be joining CIVIC and begin working in Pakistan.  After some last minute visa drama, I will be leaving soon for Islamabad.  I’ll be writing here about our work in Pakistan throughout the coming months, but let me begin by introducing myself and explain my interest in CIVIC’s work.  LINK TO CHRIS’ BIO

Though I am new to Pakistan, I have worked extensively on human rights and the laws of war in many different parts of the world.  I worked with the United Nations in Jordan to assist Iraqi refugees, with Human Rights Watch on the negotiation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and, in Gaza, with a Palestinian human rights NGO.

In Gaza, I witnessed the impact of armed conflict on civilians first-hand.  Israeli strikes were an almost daily occurrence and though civilians may not have been targeted, large, modern bombs and ordinance exacted a heavy toll in the dense city blocks and refugee camps.  During the Hamas takeover of the territory, the entire city became a battlefield.   Every civilian was trapped in their home and many were caught in the cross fire as gunmen fought building to building.

Throughout my work, I’ve seen how the greatest burden of conflict is often borne by innocent civilians.  Death, injury, destruction of homes and property, and the loss of livelihood and loved ones are so common in war zones and yet the suffering is difficult to communicate or convey to others a world away.  As a lawyer, I have deep respect for the potential of international law to protect civilians in conflict, however I also recognize that current law says little about those deemed ‘collateral damage’ and even less about how to help those that have been harmed.

This is why I’m so passionate about CIVIC’s work and excited about the opportunities to get help to war survivors in Pakistan.  Conflict there has increased markedly the past couple years, especially in the northwest of the country.  Caught in the middle, many civilians have been harmed or their property destroyed, while millions have fled to escape the fighting.

It will be challenging, but there is a lot of progress to be made.  I’m looking forward to getting started.  In my next posting I’ll explain a bit more about the current situation in Pakistan and what we hope to accomplish.  Until then…

Civilian Suffering in Pakistan

Posted by: Erica

KABUL – I was in Pakistan recently, looking at the situation of victims of conflict on the other side of the border. In the past few months, the number of US Predator strikes into the tribal areas of Pakistan from across the border in Afghanistan have skyrocketed. (See this Washington Post article). Pakistani army engagements with insurgents further north have led to an estimated 300,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs). The homes of many of those 300,000 IDPs have been destroyed in the fighting or aftermath.  No one could even tell me the number of civilians who might have been killed or injured in these operations.

In terms of help for these families, there’s a Pakistani government compensation fund, but it’s out of money. Those administering it can’t even get to many of the areas where there is active fighting to survey any losses or damage. There are also many international and government-supported aid programs, but with increasing numbers of IDPs, many for extended periods of time, they can’t even keep up with providing basic needs.