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.

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

Pharmaceuticals conceal drug side effects with the EU’s Court blessing

Guterres censures terrorist attacks in Nigeria, pledges UN ‘solidarity’

This fascinating map shows how food moves around the US

Burning Amazon rainforests: Darting towards the doom of Human Race

Laws must protect, ‘not reject’ says UNAIDS chief on Zero Discrimination Day

What we know about the Wuhan coronavirus and urgent plans to develop a vaccine

Why are the Balkans’ political leaders meeting in Geneva this week?

State aid: Commission approves €300 million public support for the development of ultrafast broadband network in Greece

Brexit: Is there anybody supporting a non-violent separation?

Business can be profitable AND drive progress on societal priorities

This tool shows you which cities will flood as ice sheets melt

We must work together to build a new world order. This is how we can do it

Commission supports normalisation in Greece through activation of post-programme framework

Brands can be a force for good and for growth. Here’s how

These are the fastest trains in the world

COVID-19: Commission presents guidelines for border measures to protect health and keep goods and essential services available

No end to Deutsche Bank’s problems: new litigations in the US and frailty in EU stress test

SMEs are driving job growth, but need higher investment in skills, innovation and tech to boost wages and productivity

Darfur: Inter-communal tensions still high despite improved security, Mission head tells Security Council

This is how travel hotspots are fighting back against overtourism

Draghi reveals how failing banks will be dealt, may cut interest rates soon

European Solidarity Corps: Commission opens new call for project proposals

Will GDPR block Blockchain?

The latest technology isn’t enough – you need the business model to go with it

Busting the myths about coronavirus

IMF’s Lagarde: Ukraine must fight corruption

When is necessary understand the cultural marks in health-disease process

Coronavirus update: UN scales back major conference

Coronavirus: Macro-financial assistance agreement provides for €80 million disbursement to North Macedonia

A Sting Exclusive: “Consumer expectations for the 2015 UN summit on climate change”, Director General of BEUC Monique Goyens outlines from Brussels

Ensuring the ‘lungs of the planet’ keep us alive: 5 things you need to know about forests and the UN

Parliament cuts own spending to facilitate agreement on EU budget

8 amazing facts to help you understand China today

Secretary-General repeats call for support to Lake Chad countries after latest Boko Haram attack

Progress made at COP25, despite lack of agreement to increase climate ambition

French Prime Minister passes Stability Program and takes his ‘café’ in Brussels this June

90% of European Jews say antisemitism is getting worse

Code of Practice against disinformation: Commission calls on signatories to intensify their efforts

World-famous cultural institutions closed due to coronavirus are welcoming virtual visitors

In this Tokyo cafe, the waiters are robots operated remotely by people with disabilities

The inhumane face of crisis mirrored in numbers

Ukraine: The West and Russia negotiate shares of influence

Barriers to healthcare: are they real?

Malta and Slovakia: MEPs warn of lack of judicial independence and corruption

After John Lewis: 21 civil rights leaders who are shaping America

Impact Investment needs global standards and better measurement

These Harvard scientists think we’ll have to socially distance until 2022

Croatian Presidency outlines priorities to EP committees

The world is too complacent about epidemics. Here’s how to change

Rise in number of children killed, maimed and recruited in conflict: UN report

Capital Markets Union: Making it easier for insurers to invest in the real economy

Commission reports on the risks of investor citizenship and residence schemes in the EU and outlines steps to address them

Women’s rights face global pushback from conservativism, fundamentalism – UN experts warn

A clean energy future with hydrogen could be closer than we think

EU budget: Will Germany alone manage Britain’s gap?

How technology will transform learning in the COVID-19 era

After COVID-19, we must rethink how we find and produce new drugs

EU-Turkey deal on migrants kicked off but to who’s interest?

A revolution, an ecosystem, an ocean: 5G is just the beginning

More Stings?

Advertising

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