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Editorial: Civilians caught in conflict

It is a fact that civilians in Afghanistan have been caught in crossfire of the ongoing counter-terrorism operations with taking high toll on them. The Afghan civilians, including the children and women are becoming casualties of war in alarming numbers. Even some airstrikes targeting fighters loyal to the different extremist groups in different parts of the country, often ends up with civilian fatalities. This is indeed a heart-wrenching to see civilians are the most victims in the ongoing war that no end sees in sight. The extremist groups of Taliban and Daesh are hell-bent on killing civilians. We don’t have any complain on them because they (militants) are targeting civilians widely with no lamentation. They are our enemy; they already killed innocent Afghans in public places, workplaces, shopping malls, sports stadiums, even in holy places like mosques and shrines. Recently at least eight people were killed following three back to back explosions at a stadium in Jalalabad city, in the eastern Nangarhar province. According to UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, from 1 January to 31 March, it has been reported 2,258 civilian casualties (763 deaths and 1,495 injured, reflecting similar levels of civilian harm documented in the first three months of 2017 and 2016. This is UNAMA’s first 2018 quarterly report on civilian casualties, which is very frustrating. Noting this, all parties to the conflict in Afghanistan must do everything in their power to protect civilians from harm. It has been for years that Afghan civilians are suffering and have been caught in the conflict. But this is preventable. This must be stop now. However, the most annoying news has been surfaced that the United States and Afghan governments are not adequately investigating possibly unlawful airstrikes in Afghanistan, which may contribute to rising civilian casualties. Recent accounts from airstrike victims and witnesses in Nangarhar and other Afghan provinces uncovered major failings in US and Afghan investigations of civilian deaths, injuries, and property damage – notably the unwillingness to interview witnesses and obtain other evidence on site, a Human Rights Watch said. “US and Afghan forces have an obligation to investigate possible laws-of-war violations when their airstrikes harm civilians,” said Patricia Gossman, senior Afghanistan researcher. “But unless you interview survivors and witnesses, you’re not going to get the full story. Inadequate investigations into civilian loss from airstrikes may violate the laws of war and deny victims justice and appropriate redress, which fosters distrust and resentment toward the Afghan and US governments,” Gossman said. The lives of civilian are matters–this must be realized by all conflict parties, and probe over the airstrikes that cause deaths must be probed comprehensively with brining the culprits to the book.

 

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