War kills civilians

Everyday I hear on the news how many British soldiers have died in Afghanistan and how the military wants even more resources.

I continue to be appalled by the situation in Afghanistan. This is one of the poorest countries in the world. Years of occupation by Russia followed by the repressive religious regime of the Taliban, numerous humans rights abuses and three decades of civil war has made life unbearable there and forced many Afghans to leave the country. In 1999 Amnesty noted that the six million people (1/5 of the population) who had left between 1979 and 1992 had been unable to return due to continuing arrest.
I cannot imagine that bombardment and occupation by the US and GB can improve the situation at all. It seems the primary reason for involvement is that ‘Afghanistan [is] traditionally a perfect route for exporting oil and gas to Western countries’. The Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline – a natural gas pipeline that will run through Afghanistan that has been on the cards since 1995. There was an oil pipeline proposed too.

Meanwhile how many civilians have been killed in Afghanistan? No-one knows although estimates have been made and a dossier complied by not really reported in the western press. Brief glimpses into the horror of the situation demonstrate that the war has not improved things for civilians. In early 2002 Media Lens commented that the press was remiss about reporting that 100 civilians were dying every day in the Maslakh refugee camp to the west of Herat while keen to report other situations around the world.

Since 2002, more than 5 million Afghans have returned to their country, primarily due to massive repatriation operations but about 3 million remain refugees. Inside the country there are tens of thousands of internally displaced persons. The problems that led to people leaving their homes have not been solved and although the government has international support there is massive insecurity in the country and humanitarian aid is often prevented from getting to people. At ‘the end of 2007, there were almost 3.1 million Afghan refugees, or 27 per cent of the global refugee population.’ Although they could be found in 72 asylum countries worldwide, a massive 96% majority were in Pakistan and Iran. What is more ‘Iraqis were the second largest group, with 2.3 million having sought refuge mainly in neighbouring countries’. UHCR Statistics

The wars in the Middle East are causing massive problems for civilians – not solving them. In March of this year the UNHCR said that ‘Iraqis continued to be the largest nationality seeking asylum in the industrialized world’ and that Afghanistan ‘recording a significant rise in applications’. And according to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon ‘civilian deaths resulting from armed hostilities between insurgents, the US military, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan and government forces have increased by 24 percent so far this year compared to the same period in 2008’.

What does the UN say?
What Refugees International says.

In the good news section – the Viva Palestina convoy, which was held in Cario for 10 days has been allowed in Gaza.

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