‘We can’t expect warring parties to distribute sweets amidst a fight. What we want is for them to care about civilians’ lives and fight each other out of our villages and towns.’—Malek Khairuddin, tribal chief in Parliz village, Miyanishin district in Kandahar province.
When the Center for Civilians in Conflict began operating in Afghanistan in 2003, civilian protection was not a priority for international forces, and little help was available for civilians who had been harmed. That has changed, thanks in part to our work.
CIVIC convinced NATO to adopt its first amends policy, providing acknowledgment of harm and financial assistance, for Afghan war victims. We pressed international forces to create a formal method of tracking civilian casualties and incorporate it into military operations, which they did. We convinced the US Congress to create its first non-monetary assistance program specifically for civilians harmed by US combat operations. We created a step-by-step process for international and Afghan forces to respectfully respond to civilian casualties.
Since ISAF mission ended in December 2014, CIVIC has offered the Afghan government practical solutions to avoid and respond to civilian harm—including training for its forces, a way to track civilian casualties, opportunities to learn from international forces' experiences, and recommendations to improve post-harm assistance mechanisms. We issued a report, Saving Ourselves, assessing protection concerns since most international forces left.
We have provided technical assistance to the Afghan government in coordination with NATO’s Resolute Support Mission to develop an Afghan Civilian Casualty Mitigation Team (CCMT) to better enable the Afghan government and security forces to track, analyze, and mitigate civilian harm. We have provided input on an Afghan civilian casualty mitigation and prevention policy which is in the process of being adopted.
Since 2015 we have worked with civil society groups to create an Afghan civilian protection working group to help civil society advocate with parties to the conflict on civilian protection issues, and in 2017 we’re expanding this work to communities affected by violence.