Aerial view of the Pentagon, Arlington, VA

Washington, DC, May 1, 2024CIVIC expresses its deep disappointment at the US Department of Defense’s (DoD) latest report indicating that, for yet another year, the DoD did not make any ex gratia payments to civilians harmed by its operations despite available funding, recent policy commitments, and numerous requests from survivors. 

On Thursday, the DoD published its Annual Report on Civilian Casualties in Connection with United States Military Operations in 2022. The report, nearly one year late, was due to Congress on May 1, 2023. 

The DoD reported zero civilian casualties in 2022, though did acknowledge six previously unconfirmed incidents of civilian harm in Syria between 2018 and 2021. CIVIC urges the Department to follow these acknowledgements with amends based on consultation with civilian survivors, and similarly reckon with the many other past cases that have gone under-investigated and unacknowledged.

CIVIC is dismayed that the DoD reported zero offers of ex gratia payments to civilian victims and survivors of harm in 2022. The DoD similarly made zero payments in 2020, and reported one single payment in 2021. This continued failure to offer amends to civilians harmed in US operations persists despite the annual authorization of $3 million from Congress for this very purpose and the many requests from civilian survivors whose harm DoD has already confirmed. It also stands in stark contrast to the Civilian Harm Mitigation and Response Action Plan and DoD Instruction on Civilian Harm Mitigation and Response, which commit the DoD to improve its ability to consistently and appropriately respond to civilian harm and treat civilian victims and survivors with dignity and respect. 

“It is deeply disappointing that, despite significant funding and many requests from victims, the Department failed to offer even a single payment in 2022,” said Annie Shiel, CIVIC’s US Advocacy Director. “With the millions of dollars authorized by Congress, the Defense Department could have made hundreds of payments to civilian victims and survivors of US operations – payments that can provide both tangible assistance and symbolic meaning to families grieving and rebuilding from unimaginable loss.”

The annual report for 2023 has not yet been published and is due to Congress today, May 1, 2024.

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Image courtesy of Camila Ferreira & Mario Duran Or
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