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CIVIC: UN Chief Should Appoint a Special Envoy for War Victims

JULY 18, 2007
5:06 AM

CONTACT: Campaign For Innocent Civilians In Conflict 
T. 202.558.6958

UN Chief Should Appoint a Special Envoy for War Victims
Advocacy group calls civilian casualties a worldwide phenomenon deserving attention

WASHINGTON - JULY 18 - Following comments made by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s expressing concern for civilians in Afghanistan, CIVIC today called on the UN chief to go further and appoint a UN Special Envoy for War Victims.

While speaking to reporters on Monday, Mr. Ban stressed his concern over the “increasing number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan.” His remarks follow several public statements by high-profile officials, including NATO Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, about the need for more caution and greater cooperation between NATO troops and the Afghan Army in fighting insurgents.

CIVIC noted there is no one person focused on the devastating impact of war on ordinary civilians at the United Nations. The efforts of such a person, the group says, could go a long way toward promoting the specific and urgent needs of ordinary civilians trying to go about their lives amidst devastation.

“Civilians consistently bear the brunt of war. Not just in Afghanistan, but also in Darfur, northern Uganda, Iraq, Sri Lanka…” said Sarah Holewinski, CIVIC’s executive director. “This is the only worldwide phenomenon I can think of that does not have a high-profile spokesperson devoted to finding solutions.”

Similar to Special Envoys appointed under previous Secretary Generals and focused on specific issues of concern to the international community, CIVIC called on Mr. Ban to task the Special Envoy for War Victims with speaking on behalf of civilians caught in the crossfire of conflicts like that ongoing in Afghanistan, promoting the rebuilding of destroyed families and communities and advocating for recognition of their losses by warring parties.

“A UN Special Envoy for War Victims shows a global commitment to the needs of civilians in conflict,” said Holewinski. “War Victims are so often overlooked. It’s time to change that and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon can do it.”

CIVIC is a Washington-based organization that believes civilians harmed in conflict should be recognized and aided by the warring parties involved. Founded by the late Marla Ruzicka, a passionate humanitarian killed by a suicide bomb in Baghdad while advocating for war victims, CIVIC works toward smart, compassionate policies for civilians caught in the crossfire of conflict.


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