• 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: BDPs and Problem of Lack of Info, Pt. 2

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

Read Part 1, by Erica, on Kabul…

KANDAHAR – On a recent trip to Kandahar, I heard similar stories about the “guessing approach” that aid agencies are forced to adopt in their efforts to assist Battle-Displaced Persons (BDPs). Access to information is a problem that is intensified by a high level of corruption amongst government officials and a lack of monitoring after aid has been distributed. A UN World Food Programme (WFP) representative told me that he faced “tremendous problems” establishing the numbers of BDPs that require assistance. After one military operation in Helmand, he was told by local government officials that 8,000 families – or approximately 48,000 people – had been displaced. After contacting the British PRT in Helmand and the US marines, and after WFP’s implementing partners went into the field, WFP managed to establish that only 1000-1500 BDPs actually required assistance. According to the WFP representative, such inflation of numbers is not uncommon and shows how “the government authorities are taking advantage of our aid.” Kandahar government officials, he said, will send him “fake lists” of BDPs that include IDPs and even, in one instance, a list of individuals from a village that simply did not exist. Another problem is the fact that there is not, as yet, a system in place that tracks the BDPs who have been helped. “We give people a one-time food distribution,” the representative told me, “and then we don’t know what happens to these people. Then the government comes with another list and there’s a good chance that the same people appear again as BDPs who need help. We have no way of knowing.”

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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.

Germany helping Afghans

Posted By: Erica

I’m in Kunduz now, in the north of Afghanistan. Kunduz saw heavy fighting and bombardment in 2001, when coalition forces were attacking Taliban fighters fleeing to the north, but since then it’s been a relatively quiet province. A few suicide bombings last year and threats from local insurgent groups suggest that might be changing, but for the time being the German Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), which is in charge of security and stabilization for this province, has a fairly quiet job.

Despite the calm in Kunduz there are civilians who are being harmed by the ongoing conflict and the military presence. I went to the local German PRT to talk to them about how they handle these issues. One officer told me that when there is an insurgent bombing that harms civilian casualties, or a road accident resulting in civilian injuries, they do what they can. But they are not given any funds to spend on such condolences or gestures of compassion to civilian families. Any funds they do raise come from the individual soldiers on the PRT or from their families back home in Germany.

One soldier told me: “When he had the automobile accident [a few days ago], at the morning meeting every soldier gave maybe 5, 10 euros, whatever he could for the family.” In that case, they were able to scrape together about 200 euros for that family.

Sometimes these soldiers find ways to help families that go beyond a monetary contribution. When there was a suicide bombing last May, resulting in 21 civilian casualties (5 deaths, 16 injuries), the Civil-Military (CIMIC) coordinator at the PRT tried to find jobs for those injured, or for their surviving family members, at the PRT or with other organizations in town. One of the victims, a 7-year-old girl, suffered severe burns requiring skin grafts and plastic surgery to restore. The PRT officials found a German charity that would take responsibility for flying her for treatment to Germany and taking care of her while there. After a lengthy process of approval, they were finally successful, and the little girl boarded a plane for Germany three days ago for her treatment.

It is an inspiring gesture of humanity that these troops will dig into their own pockets and resources to help Afghans. But it shouldn’t have to be that way. All NATO countries operating in Afghanistan should be giving funds to help war victims.