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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs