The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: T. 202.558.6958,E.,

Afghanistan: Obama, Karzai Right to Openly Discuss Civilian Casualties

Military progress on protecting Afghans applauded, but more can be done to save lives


Following a press conference yesterday in which Presidents Obama and
Karzai discussed measures being taken to avoid civilian casualties in
Afghanistan, the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC)
applauded international forces for their efforts to protect civilians
while noting three necessary improvements that could save more lives.

U.S. President Barak Obama, hosting Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai
at the White House, said that U.S. forces have "taken extraordinary
measures to avoid civilian casualties" and that unintentional civilian
harm is "something that I have to carry with me." President Karzai
noted that General Stanley McChrystal, head of international forces in
2009, has ushered in progress on the protection of Afghan civilians.

"I'm encouraged to hear President Obama speak frankly about the human
cost of this war," said Sarah Holewinski, CIVIC's executive director.
"His recognition of the burden borne by the Afghan people should be
matched by ensuring his own Administration is doing all it can to meet
their needs."

CIVIC made three recommendations to President Obama and his military leadership:

First, create a high-level position at the Pentagon to track, monitor
and analyze the human costs of armed conflicts in which the U.S.
military is engaged, including Afghanistan.

Second, encourage international forces at NATO to adopt a uniform compensation policy for civilians suffering losses.

Third, assess and improve escalation of force incidents like checkpoints to reduce civilian deaths.

CIVIC has regularly applauded international forces' new approach to
war-fighting in Afghanistan-including Gen. McChrystal's tactical
directives limiting the use of deadly airstrikes and night raids-and
criticized the Taliban for increasingly causing civilian casualties
through suicide attacks and roadside bombs.

Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC) advocates on behalf of victims of armed conflict, working to ensure they receive recognition and assistance from warring parties. CIVIC persuaded the US Congress to establish programs for war victims in Afghanistan and Iraq, guides victims to assistance, brings the human cost of war to the attention of policymakers and the public, and is advocating a new global standard of conduct that warring parties should help where they have hurt.