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Report blames Trump’s Administration for 330% increase in civilian casualties

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(Last Updated On: December 8, 2020)

Outgoing President Donald Trump’s decision in 2017 to loosen military rules of engagement in Afghanistan that were meant to protect civilians was followed by a sharp increase in civilian deaths, a report released on Monday revealed.

The report by Brown University Watson Institute’s Costs of War Project, one of the premier authorities on civilian casualties in the 19-year-long war, found a 330 percent increase in the number of Afghan civilians killed by US-led airstrikes from 2016, the final year of the Barack Obama administration, to 2019.

Author of the report, Neta C. Crawford, said: “Some of this harm could be avoided by tighter rules of engagement, as well as better training. A negotiated ceasefire might also yield results at the bargaining table and at the same time avoid escalating harm to Afghan civilians from airstrikes.”

From 2007 to 2016, US-led and Afghan government forces killed an average of 582 civilians each year, the report found.

From 2017 to 2019, during Trump’s tenure, those same forces killed an average of 1,134 civilians each year, a nearly 95 percent increase.

The sharp increase in civilian deaths followed a decision by Trump, in consultation with former Defense Secretary James Mattis and other military and civilian officials, to relax rules of engagement in the Afghan war in order to give US commanders more battlefield flexibility and to gain leverage at the bargaining table with the Taliban.

“From 2017 through 2019, civilian deaths due to US and allied forces’ airstrikes in Afghanistan dramatically increased,” the report states.

“In 2019 airstrikes killed 700 civilians – more civilians than in any other year since the beginning of the war in 2001 and 2002. After the US and Taliban reached a peace agreement in late February 2020, US and other international air strikes declined, and so did the harm to civilians caused by those strikes.”

According to the United Nations, US-led and Afghan government airstrikes killed more civilians than did Taliban militant attacks during the first half of 2019.

The new report found that as US-led bombings declined following the agreement reached with the Taliban in February 2020, Afghan government airstrikes have increased.

“As a consequence, the Afghan Air Force (AAF) is harming more Afghan civilians than at any time in its history,” the report states.

“In the first six months of this year, the AAF killed 86 Afghan civilians and injured 103 civilians in airstrikes. That rate of harm nearly doubled in the next three months. Between July and the end of September, the Afghan Air Force killed 70 civilians and 90 civilians were injured.”

“As with the international airstrikes, some of this harm could be avoided by tighter rules of engagement, as well as better training,” the report states.
The report also highlights the fact that a reduction or even total withdrawal of US ground troops does not mean an end to war or civilian casualties, as most American combat is one-sided and takes place in the air.

The report also states that there were more weapons dropped from the air in 2018 and 2019 than at the height of US presence in Afghanistan in 2011.

According to the Costs of War Project report, more than 43,000 Afghan civilians have been killed during the 19-year US-led war.

While Taliban insurgents have killed the most civilians, thousands of men, women, and children have also been killed by US, allied, and Afghan government bombs and bullets, the report states.

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IEA approves committee to regulate, improve and advance Hajj affairs

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(Last Updated On: May 21, 2022)

Enamullah Samangani, Deputy Spokesman of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), said Saturday that cabinet has approved a plan to establish a National Hajj Committee to regulate, improve and advance Hajj-related issues.

Samangani wrote on his Twitter page: “The committee is chaired by Mawlawi Abdul Salam Hanafi, Deputy Prime Minister, and the Ministries of Guidance, Hajj and Endowments, Transport and Aviation, Justice, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Public Health and Interior ministry, the general directorate of intelligence (GDI), and the chamber of commerce are its members.”

According to Samangani, in order to regulate, improve and advance Hajj affairs in the provinces, a committee chaired by the deputy governor with the participation of delegates from the departments of Hajj and Endowments, airport, police headquarters, intelligence and public health should be established.

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UN envoy says Afghanistan’s new rulers have no clear plan for good governance

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(Last Updated On: May 21, 2022)

The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons says the new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) government has an unclear strategy in terms of leading the political and economic situation.

In an interview with CNN, Lyons said the IEA does not have a clear plan for good governance and its economic plan is unclear.

She said she has met separately with the leaders of the new government, but no specific plans have been put forward so far.

“We have tried to find out what their views are on Afghanistan, how they want to develop this country, so far they do not have a clear definition in this regard, so far there is no plan to determine how they want to lead the country, if they have an economic plan, what is that?

“We are still working in separate meetings with the leaders to find out what the plans are for the future and overcoming the problems. We are currently acting as a bridge between Afghanistan and the international community,” said Lyons.

According to her, some leaders of the IEA agree that girls should go to school, but not everyone has yet reached a common decision.

“In my meeting with the leaders of the incumbent government, I found that some of them know that this issue is very important for the international community and they are in favor of reopening schools for girls, but others have the opposite view, a single position has not yet been formed.

“Afghanistan is the only country in the world where girls are not allowed to go to school,” said Lyons.

At the same time, former President Hamid Karzai has welcomed the IEA’s desire to have good diplomatic relations with the United States and other international countries, but said he hopes the new rulers decide as soon as possible on the reopening of girls’ schools.

“Sirajuddin Haqqani spoke of the government’s willingness to have good diplomatic relations with the United States and the international community which is in the interest of Afghanistan. He [Haqqani] also said that the girls would return to school soon, which I hope would happen as soon as possible,” said Karzai.

Speaking to CNN, Karzai said the issue of hijab was clear. “Afghanistan is an Islamic country and the issue of women’s hijab is very clear in Islam,” he said.

Afghan women already wore hijab, covering the face is not a hijab, covering the face by female media workers who appear on TV is also not a hijab; this is not Afghan culture, he said.

He called on the IEA to scrap the decision that women must cover their faces. On the issue of teenage girls not going to school, Karzai stated that girls need to return to school as soon as possible.

“I denounce it in the strongest words and want the Taliban (IEA) to allow girls to go back to school as soon as possible,” he said.

Karzai also confirmed a recent report by a US watchdog organization that the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan led to the military collapse of the republic.

According to Karzai, a number of other issues also contributed to this including, the Doha Agreement, and the more than 3,000 US airstrikes a year.

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World Bank pays over $150 million to boost Afghanistan’s health sector

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(Last Updated On: May 21, 2022)

The World Bank recently provided $150 million to the Afghan Ministry of Public Health to help pay for medicine, medical equipment and salaries, Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) officials said this week.

According to the ministry the assistance was provided by the World Bank in accordance with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on February 7 in Switzerland, by Dr. Qalandar Ebad, acting Minister of Public Health, and his accompanying delegation.

The money is to be used for primary health care in 34 provinces, including the payment of salaries and training of health workers, the provision of medicine, medical equipment, the fight against diseases, and the strengthening of oversight of health services, said the health ministry.

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