Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Lest we forget: driven from Afghanistan

This Times article appeared fleetingly at the margin of the electronic paper:

Afghanistan Had Record Civilian Casualties in 2015, U.N. Says
KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban suicide attacks and a fierce battle for the northern city of Kunduz made 2015 the worst year for Afghan civilian casualties since the United Nations began tracking the data, officials said on Sunday, in a sobering reminder of the cost of the conflict at a time when the prospect of peace seems as distant as ever.

The United Nations documented 3,545 civilians killed and 7,457 injured last year, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and the United Nations Human Rights Office said in a report presented at a news conference in Kabul, the Afghan capital. The total casualty figure, 11,002, was 4 percent above the 2014 level. The number of civilian injuries rose 9 percent, though there were 4 percent fewer deaths.

Having, fruitlessly, turned over that apple cart, the U.S. has left unfortunate Afghans to stew. Further down the link list there's this:

Civilian Casualties in Afghan War Are Unabated in 2016
The United Nations mission in Afghanistan documented 600 civilian deaths and 1,343 wounded in the first three months of 2016, which by most accounts is expected to be a bloody year as the Taliban rejected the latest efforts to bring them to peace talks. While the death toll fell 13 percent from the same period last year, the number of wounded increased 11 percent, the report said, with a high rise among children. ...

“In the first quarter of 2016, almost one-third of civilian casualties were children,” said Danielle Bell, the United Nations human rights director in Afghanistan. “If the fighting persists near schools, playgrounds, homes and clinics, and parties continue to use explosive weapons in those areas — particularly mortars and I.E.D. tactics — these appalling numbers of children killed and maimed will continue.”

The report blamed the insurgents for 60 percent of the casualties, and forces on the government side for 19 percent.

Though the Taliban were still at fault more often, the report noted that deaths caused by pro-government forces were up sharply from last year — roughly 70 percent higher over the same period. ...

It sure was a lovely little war of revenge, wasn't it?

Not surprisingly, many Afghan have hightailed it toward Europe as this map shows. In the public imagination, escapees from the Syrian war have eclipsed these Afghans, but they keep on coming across the vast expanse of Central Asia. Afghans are the second largest group reaching Europe, after Syrians. Most (some 5 million) stop, to work and to survive, in Pakistan and Iran, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Some number close to 500,000 have made it to Europe.

Though Afghanistan is the source of the second largest refugee flow toward Europe, its nationals are not the second largest group to win a place on that continent.

Meanwhile, the United States which kicked the hornet's nest is notably stingy about accepting the human casualties of our war policies.

American veterans have taken up the cause of thousands of interpreters and guides seeking visas to escape reprisal at home. Between October 2006 and November 2015, the United States issued only 17,619 visas earmarked for this special category, though many more of these applicants remain in limbo. During this same period, only 5,375 Afghans received visas through conventional channels. Washington remains deeply suspicious of Afghan visa applicants from all walks of life.

Remind me, what is war good for?

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