Afghanistan probe: ‘at least 60 civilians’ killed after US military airstrikes on alleged drug labs

UNAMA/Fardin Waezi A typical day at the popular Mandawi market in Kabul, Afghanistan.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


“Multiple” airstrikes by the US military on alleged methamphetamine drug labs in a remote area of western Afghanistan earlier this year, killed or injured dozens of civilians who should not have been treated as military targets, the UN said on Wednesday.

In a special report into the impact of damage to more than 60 sites in Farah province’s Bakwa district and in neighbouring Delaram district on 5 May, investigators from the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), verified 39 civilian casualties – 30 deaths, five injured and four “undetermined”. The toll included 14 children and one woman.

Together with the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) – which jointly produced the report – UNAMA said that it had also received reliable and credible reports of at least 37 further civilian casualties – 30 deaths and seven injured – the majority of whom were women and children.

“While some of the civilians killed or injured in the airstrikes were working in the drug labs, others – including women and children – were not,” the report said.

Homes ‘are not a target’

There was no military advantage to be gained from the bombardment, it continued, pointing out that some of the buildings targeted – including family residences – had no apparent link to drug-making. Methamphetamine, or meth, is a highly-addictive illegal stimulant that is typically manufactured in makeshift laboratories, using easily-available chemicals.

“UNAMA found that the civilian structures that were allegedly used as drug labs and were hit during the airstrikes did not have a sufficient nexus to the Taliban’s war-fighting operations to warrant their classification as military objectives,” the report stated, referring to the non-state armed group that has carried out years of deadly attacks on civilians.

Although the Taliban controls Bakwa district and uses drug-making facilities to fund its operations, the report noted that the drug production facilities targeted “were not controlled and operated exclusively by the Taliban, but rather they were owned and operated by criminal groups with connections to international drug trafficking networks”.

‘First time airstrikes have caused mass casualties’

In a statement calling for aerial bombardments that target drug facilities to stop,  the UN mission and OHCHR noted that although the tactic was not new, “this was the first time that UNAMA had received reports of a large number of civilian casualties resulting from such an operation”.

According to the probe, the United States Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A), assessed that there had been no civilian casualties in the airstrikes. This finding is in line with “longstanding United States policy” it said, which considers that economic objects that contribute to a party’s war effort are “legitimate military objectives”.

However, this is contrary to international humanitarian law, the report’s authors insisted, pointing out that drug facilities and people working there “may not be lawfully made the target of attack, and should be protected”.

On the issue of drug abuse in Afghanistan, the report acknowledges the growing threat posed by the methamphetamine industry and the “extreme and wide-ranging harm” to the country’s people and broader region of narcotics in general.

But as an alternative to airstrikes, the report suggests that the “appropriate and legal” response to illicit drug activity is through law enforcement, “not military operations that endanger civilians”.

Additional recommendations include an appeal to USFOR-A to conduct an independent and transparent investigation to examine the impact on civilians from the 5 May operation.

These findings should be made public, as well as measures taken to ensure accountability, as well as measures to provide “appropriate redress” to victims and their family members, the UN report urged.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

5 reasons to protect mangrove forests for the future

Ethiopia planted 350 million trees in a day. And its fight against deforestation does not stop there

German synagogue shooting ‘another tragic demonstration of anti-Semitism’: UN chief

Who is to profit from the quasi announced ECB rate cut?

Here’s how we can rethink the way we eat meat

Refugee crisis update: Commission still in panic while Turkey is to be added in the equation

What does strategy have to do with a platform approach?

‘Bring to life’ precious moments caught on film or tape, UN agency urges on World Day

The success story of a Chinese investment in the Greek port of Piraeus

Polish PM chooses to focus on economy, amid questions on rule of law in Poland

‘Stealing’ food from hungry Yemenis ‘must stop immediately’, says UN agency

Young people are Europe’s biggest value and hope

80,000 youngsters at risk in DRC after forcible expulsion from Angola: UNICEF

Turkey remains numb while its economy is expected to shrink further due to a cocktail of EU and US sanctions

Hate speech exacerbating societal, racial tensions with ‘deadly consequences around the world’, say UN experts

Empowering people living with HIV ‘will end the epidemic’, says AIDS agency chief

4 things ISPs can do to reduce the impact of cybercrime

From UN Assembly podium, Central African Republic leader appeals for lifting arms embargo

LGBTQI+ and health care: do they deserve more attention from medical universities?

The Ecofin deceives the SMEs with the EIB €10bn capital increase

Thomas Cook bankruptcy: Better consumer and employee protection needed

Memoirs from a unique trip to China: “my new old dragon” (Part I)

Why European manufacturing SMEs in the South face fatal dangers

Eurozone: Black economy loves the South

State aid: Commission approves €431 million public support for cleaner transport in German cities

Economic Outlook: Weak trade and investment threaten long-term growth

UN global counter-terrorism strategy review an ‘overarching vision for the future’: Assembly President

Crowdfunding: what it is and what it may become

Mergers: Commission prohibits proposed merger between Tata Steel and ThyssenKrupp

Despite setbacks, ‘political will’ to end Yemen war stronger than ever: top UN envoy

Why responsible consumption is everyone’s business

Dreaming of China

Tuesday’s Daily Brief: Venezuela-Colombia baby breakthrough, Italy piles on rescue boat pressure, States must combat hate, Kashmir rights latest and a musical plea to combat CAR hunger

EU-US trade war: Will Trump take advantage of WTO’s decision leading to ominous economic growth?

Switzerland has the most highly skilled workers in the world. This is why

Summer 2019 Economic Forecast: Growth clouded by external factors

Inequality triggered protests across Latin America. Here’s how the youth can help

Here’s how tech can help governments fight corruption

Tax Inspectors Without Borders making significant progress toward strengthening developing countries’ ability to effectively tax multinational enterprises

‘Repeated attacks’ could close down key hospital in eastern Libya, says WHO

Can the EU really make Google and Facebook pay publishers and media?

Consumers to be better protected against misleading and unfair practices

Here’s how business needs to change for a new decade

“ASEM: Global Partners for Global Challenges”, a Sting Exclusive by China’s Ambassador to the EU

“Joining forces to #BeatPollution”, a Sting Exclusive by the Head of UNEP in Brussels

Here are three ways the private sector can act as a sustainability catalyst for Globalization 4.0

Central African Republic: Guterres says UN mission committed to protecting civilians, helping stabilize country, as violence flares

Closing the loop: Commission delivers on Circular Economy Action Plan

French election: Will France vote for a reformed or no EU?

Women in video games: ‘Accept it, or don’t buy the game’

The EU Commission lets money market funds continue the unholy game of banks

2030 development agenda: Major breakthrough for world of work

This Chinese tech giant’s latest gadget is… a bus

Amazon fires: Health Effects, Near and Far

UN chief urges ‘active, substantive and meaningful participation’ on International Day of Democracy

Financial services: Commission sets out its equivalence policy with non-EU countries

Parliament elects the von der Leyen Commission

8 top stories from the week in Davos 2020

UN chief calls for Security Council to work with Myanmar to end ‘horrendous suffering’ of Rohingya refugees

ECB money bonanza not enough to revive euro area, Germany longs to rule with stagnation

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s