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Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan

  • November 4th, 2006
  • Posted by 7thmin

afghanistan-officials-nato.jpgAttacks by Taliban forces on civil reconstruction projects were reviewed by senior leaders on the civilian side of the Afghanistan operation, at a recent meeting (2.11.06) in Brussels.

Representatives of international bodies including the United Nations, World Bank and European Union gathered at the headquarters of the NATO alliance.

NATO commands the fighting forces in Afghanistan, and assists with security for civilian projects.

The aid bodies agreed that their work had become harder this year because of intensified warfare, especially in the Southern provinces of Helmand, Kandahar, Zabol, and Oreuzgan – the province where Australian forces are located, together with troops from the Netherlands.

They did want to see improved security at village level, to be provided by the Afghan government, and together with non-government organisations they were setting up better-integrated operations with more armed protection.

However they were adamant that civil reconstruction was going to continue.

The World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan, Alastair McKechnie, told journalists that in half the country’s 32 provinces, “in Afghan terms”, all projects were operating normally, as set up and funded.

“We will continue to fund programs anywhere in Afghanistan … so long as those implementing those programs are willing and able to work there,” he said.

Most concern for civilian safety has been for the local Afghan population: workers and officials on schools or healthcare facilities attacked by the Taliban, and many more caught up in warfare.

NATO has admitted responsibility for civilian deaths in bombing attacks, where there were errors.

It also says far more deaths have been caused by the other side.

A spokesperson produced figures to show that of 519 Afghan civilians killed in fighting this year, 91% had died in attacks by Taliban forces.

Civilians had made up 93% of 205 deaths in Taliban suicide attacks.

See the accompanying report, Calls for Afghan Security Upgrade, in EUAustralia Online 3.11.06.

Picture: Afghan officials (NATO).