NATO responsible for too many civilian victims in Afghanistan

9 January 2007

NATO responsible for too many civilian victims in Afghanistan

SP Member of Parliament and Foreign Affairs spokesman Harry van Bommel is seeking clarification following a statement by NATO spokesman Brig. Richard E. Nugee, who, referring to the campaign in southern Afghanistan during 2006, said that “the single thing that we have done wrong and we are striving extremely hard to improve on is killing innocent civilians” Brig. Nugee admitted that dozens of Afghan civilians had lost their lives as a result of airstrikes and violent attacks in which NATO troops were involved.

Harry van BommelMr Van Bommel has asked the government to give precise information concerning the number of civilians killed and whether any Dutch soldiers were involved in armed actions leading to fatalities. “The Dutch government announced that it does not know whether civilians have also been caught up in armed actions in Uruzgan, where our troops are stationed,” Van Bommel says. “Yet NATO must surely have estimates of air strikes in other southern Afghan provinces. Dutch planes and helicopters are involved in these bombings.”

Protests to the government in Kabul from Afghan civilians against the number of civilian deaths at the hands of foreign troops are increasing. This creates a huge problem for the chances of success for the mission as a whole. The more violence is employed the less chance there is of support from the civilian population. “There are reports that NATO is considering changing its procedures, “Van Bommel says. “So I'd like the government to say whether these reports are correct and if so, why this is happening now and not a lot earlier.”

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