Friday, November 16, 2007

UN Secretary General on civilian casualties

75 civilians killed in September alone
UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon issued his report to the Security Council recently. Report of the Secretary-General on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. Excerpts:

In Afghanistan, violence and insecurity have resulted in renewed and increasing displacement, particularly in the southern provinces, with some 44,000 people displaced during the first half of 2007...

[Insurgent tactics which endanger civilians] are inexcusable violations of international humanitarian law of which civilians bear the brunt. There is also a risk that in fighting an enemy that is difficult, if not impossible, to identify, militarily superior parties may increasingly respond with methods and means of warfare that violate the principles of distinction and proportionality, of which civilians, again, bear the brunt...

In Afghanistan, civilian casualties have been caused by aerial bombardments and ground attacks as a result of imprecise targeting or mistaken identity, in some cases provoking expressions of concern from the Government. The Afghan Human Rights Commission claims that over 75 civilians were killed during air strikes and ground operations in September 2007 alone. It is critical that Afghan and multinational forces exercise increased care in the conduct of their operations to avoid civilian casualties. Unfortunately, in many instances security conditions limit the ability of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) to carry out independent verification of incidents involving civilian casualties...
US seeks non-Pakistan supply route for Afghan war
On CounterPunch, journalist Robert Bryce writes how the US military relies heavily upon unstable Pakistan for its supply of fuel for the Afghan conflict.
The Bush Administration's muted reaction to the new dictatorial rule of Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf can be traced to the American military's logistics problems in Afghanistan. Without the cooperation of Musharraf's government, the 24,000 U.S. troops who are stationed in Afghanistan would likely run out of fuel within a matter of days.
Agence France Presse has recently reported on the theme, saying the US "has begun making contingency plans in case its supply lines to its forces in Afghanistan are disrupted by the turmoil in Pakistan, a Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday." (link)

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