News / Asia

Cash and Heaven: How Afghan War Victims Are Compensated

Man holds bodies of two children killed in counter-insurgency airstrike called in by US-NATO led troops, Helmand, Afghanistan, May 29, 2011.
Man holds bodies of two children killed in counter-insurgency airstrike called in by US-NATO led troops, Helmand, Afghanistan, May 29, 2011.

The administration of Afghan President Hamid Karzai has spent more than $45 million from the national treasury over the last eight years to compensate civilian casualties of the U.S.-led war, although most were caused by Taliban insurgents.

Amid the ongoing drawdown of U.S. forces, day-to-day conflict remains a reality for many people in Afghanistan, where the death or injury of a household breadwinner can be catastrophic.

“For each martyred, 100,000 Afghanis [about $1,800] and ... 50,000 Afghanis have been paid [for each wounded],” Karzai spokesman Aimal Faizi told VOA Dari service, explaining that a total 12,212 payments have been allocated to families of “martyrs,” with another 11,642 issued to wounded individuals.

But Karzai’s condolence payments aren't limited to victims of military operations by pro-government forces, and they aren't restricted exclusively to cash remittances. A vast majority of recipients were harmed in Taliban attacks or U.S.-NATO counterinsurgency operations, and, moreover, the Afghan government’s ad hoc sympathy program has funded Hajj pilgrimage costs of over 4,400 individuals, resulted in the distribution of land, facilitated the creation of educational scholarships and resulted in reimbursement for medical expenses.

But the government program hasn't reached every civilian casualty of the war. At least 15,628 civilian deaths — along with many thousands of injuries — were recorded by the UN from January 2009 to June 2014 alone.

U.S.-NATO payments

As the U.S. winds down the longest war in its history, civilian casualties resulting from U.S.-led counterinsurgency operations have dropped markedly. UN figures show only one percent of civilian casualties reported in the first half of 2014 — 1,564 deaths, 3,289 wounded — were caused by international forces.

The U.S. military's sharp reduction in the killing and injuring of Afghan civilians has, beyond the obvious political and moral advantages, palpable economic benefits. Fewer American taxpayer dollars are spent on civilian victims of anti-Taliban operations now than before.

While Kabul-based U.S.-NATO spokesperson Jennifer Bragg says the alliance doesn't have “centralized figures” to show how much it paid to compensate for civilian casualties over the past years, it was reported  in 2011 that U.S. military had spent millions.

In one of the largest payments ever made, families of the 16 civilians shot dead by Sergeant Robert Bales on March 11, 2014 in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar, were each paid $46,000. In general, however, U.S.-NATO forces have paid $2,500 for every civilian killed and $1,000 for any one injured in their military operations.

Amnesty International has criticized the U.S. for its alleged failure in delivering justice to Afghan civilian victims. In a recent report, the UK-based human rights group accused U.S.-NATO forces of “killing thousands” of Afghan civilians and failing to bring those responsible to justice and accountability.

Taliban’s promise of heaven

The UN figures attribute over 70 percent of all civilian casualties in Afghanistan to Taliban insurgents. Taliban’s suicide attacks, improvised bombings and targeted assassinations account for most of the UN reported civilian casualties.

The insurgent group, however, rejects these reports and says its fighters only target pro-government Afghan and foreign forces, civilian government employees and contractors.

In very rare cases when Taliban acknowledged civilian casualties, the group issued tersely worded regrets, saying the victims were “martyrs” who would be rewarded by Allah in the heavens. Although Diya, or blood money, is obligatory in Islamic jurisprudence, the militant organization does not pay civilian victims — killed or injured.

According to the UN reports, Taliban insurgents have caused more than 11,000 civilian deaths, and wounded thousands more, over the past five years. If Afghan government standards for civilian casualty compensation — $1,800 for each death; $900 for each wounded — applied to Taliban militants, the group would owe millions in financial payments to Afghan families.

You May Like

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Lawrence Bush from: Houston, USA
August 28, 2014 1:46 PM
To pay compensation after the civilian casualties...... it's wonder on earth. Those who've already perished, they won't come back again.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs