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Growing Concern Over The Rising Number Of Civilian Casualties
Policy Brief No. 2 of the Civilian Protection Group
During the first three months of 2015 civilian casualties in Afghanistan have risen significantly, the majority caused by Anti-Government Forces and the Afghan National Army. According to a press release published by UNAMA on the 12 April 2015, during the first three months of this year, casualties due to ground operations have increased by 8% as compared with the same period in 2014, leaving 136 dead and 385 injured. In the face of this situation, there is an urgent need for more effective policies and procedures to protect civilians and to compensate those who have been harmed in the violent conflict. CPG emphasizes that commitments to not intentionally killing civilians are not enough; instead they have to be purposefully protected. Therefore CPG urges the parties to the conflict to design and implement actions for a better protection of civilians and to ensure that civilians are educated about their rights and can therefore proactively demand protection.
So far the present policies are lacking. We acknowledge that huge efforts have been made by government bodies and the international community to train Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in international humanitarian law. But the UNAMA data shows that these efforts alone are not enough to limit the number of civilian casualties in the ongoing conflict. We also acknowledge that the government of Afghanistan has put into place compensatory schemes to assist civilians victimized by war violence. Yet, so far these schemes have had but minimal practical impact, as there are many obstacles to obtaining these benefits. Most people are not even aware that these compensatory rules and procedures exist. Acknowledging existing training programs and compensatory schemes, CPG stresses that knowledge transfer in the ANSF and compensation policies are no substitute for policies designed to actively and effectively avoid harming civilians in the first place.
Failing to protect the lives of non-combatant population means to disrespect the principles of Islamic societies as well as the rules of international humanitarian law. Against this background, the second CPG policy brief urges for efforts in three areas:
(1) Training and awareness campaigns for civilians;
(2) Commitment to civilian protection by the parties to the conflict; and
(3) Promoting the peace process