• 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

Shar-e-Cott, pt. 2

Posted By: Erica

I met the elders of Shar-e-Cott, along with the other ACAP staff in the lumber yard of a large construction supply company. ACAP staff had pre-ordered and purchased the shovels, picks, gravel, lumber, wheelbarrows and other materials necessary to build a retention wall and irrigation system for the village of Shar-e-Cott. The retention wall and irrigation system will create a long-term improvement in the flood control, irrigation and water systems in the village, and in the short-term provide at least 250 families with day labor jobs constructing the wall and irrigation systems. Continue reading

Shar-e-Cott, pt. 1

Posted By: Erica

In Afghanistan, even when there is the will and the resources, increasing security considerations often make it difficult to impossible to reach civilians caught in conflict. When I was in Gardez a couple of weeks ago, I witnessed an ACAP distribution of tools and materials to support a community construction project for the small village of Shar-e-cott, about an hour away from Gardez City. Shar-e-Cott suffered extensive damage during the US air campaign in 2001, but because of its location and security issues, few aid workers, international or local, have been able to access it. The population of 2,500 has been waiting seven years for some sort of help rebuilding, much less genuine redress.

As mentioned in other blogs, ACAP usually works similar to livelihood-targeted social work – they work with individual families to help them rebuild their lives and find other means of income to get them back on their feet. Given the continuing instability in Shar-e-Cott, that type of work is not possible. Even local staff members would be at risk for kidnappings or reprisals. Instead ACAP has developed a community reconstruction project for Shar-e-Cott that may become a model for ways to reach out to these types of communities. The next blog will share a bit more about this type of project and what it meant for the community of Shar-e-Cott

Photo: Shar-e-Cott.

Disappearances, Pt. 2

Posted By: Erica

When his family members went missing, Shafek went with his father and his uncle to the “front lines” of Kabul (ironically a road that is now so peaceful that my office is located there). They saw bodies strewn everywhere. Many of them had been mutilated, a woman’s head atop a man’s body, or vice versa. “Unrecognizable,” Shafek said. He saw one woman who had been pregnant, with her belly slit open, her womb a pit of dried blood and flies.

They did not find their family members anywhere, so they went to the nearby university to search the containers. These steel shipping containers can still be found everywhere in Kabul — it’s the most common structure for small shops and businesses. But back in those days they sometimes had a different purpose. Fifteen to twenty bodies were collected in each container, Shafek said. As Shafek and his father and uncle sifted through the containers, looking for their loved ones, they were horrified to think that a similar fate had befallen them.

“The worst is when someone goes missing,” Shafek told me, a lump in his throat, “Because then whenever you hear about something horrible that has happened, you imagine that this same atrocity has happened to them as well. When someone dies, at least you can bury them, but when someone has disappeared, they always stay on with you this way.”

Like many Afghan families, Shafek and his family have never found out what happened to their two loved ones.

Photo: Shipping Containers

Shipping Containers in Kabul

A Community in Crisis

Posted By: Erica

A billboard in a town east of Kabul urges citizens that if they love their communities they should not let their family members become suicide bombers.

billboard

Lingering Woes of War

Posted By: Sarah

If you know CIVIC, you know we stay above the fray of politics. It’s not often easy, but we want to focus on the suffering of war victims without getting diverted from their faces, stories, and needs.

Who was hurt? How? What help do they need?

This trip to Lebanon and Israel has made very clear what war victims around the world already knew: war never ends. Even when the bullets and bombs stop, ordinary people are left to pick up the pieces. Bombed out buildings, severe injuries that need years and years of treatment, psychological damage that never heals. It’s 18 months after the 2006 clash between these two countries… and the wounds remain fresh.

And at CIVIC, we’re a bit stubborn. We believe that the warring parties who did the harming should also do the helping. But here? The animosity is so great from side to side, it’s hard to imagine the scenarios where Israel would help Lebanese war victims and vice versa. Still, we have some ideas. Stay tuned.

Sarah

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