1,000 Afghan civilians killed in 2006, report says
London Guardian | January 30, 2007
More than 1,000 civilians were killed in Afghanistan last year, mostly in attacks by the Taliban and other anti-government forces, a human rights group said today.
In all, more than 4,400 Afghans died as a result of the war - twice as many as in 2005 and more than in any other year since the Taliban fell in 2001, according to a report by New York-based Human Rights Watch.
The report coincided with a two-day international meeting in Berlin to assess the implementation of the Afghanistan compact. The compact, launched last year, sets out benchmarks on improving human rights and basic security in the country.
"Afghanistan hasn't really met any of the benchmarks, particularly those addressing the wellbeing of the Afghan people," Sam Zarifi, the Asia research director at Human Rights Watch, said.
"Kabul and its international backers have made little progress in providing basic needs like security, food, electricity, water and healthcare."
Human Rights Watch said the international security effort in Afghanistan was being hampered by inadequate resources and urged the US, the EU and other donors to provide greater economic, political, and military aid to protect human rights.
It also called on Nato countries to set up a financial compensation programme for civilian death, injury or property damage resulting from Nato operations.
Nato and US-led operations caused the deaths of at least 100 civilians and damaged the homes and livelihoods of hundreds of families, it said.
Last week, the Bush administration pledged an additional $8.6bn (£4.3bn) for police and army training and another $2bn for road building, electricity and counter-narcotics efforts. It has also extended the tour duty of some of its troops in Afghanistan.
Washington is pumping in new money and calling on its European Nato allies to provide more funding and troops in anticipation of a Taliban offensive in the spring.
However, there is little sign so far of the Europeans coming up with the extra 6,000 troops Nato commanders say they need. Nato currently has around 40,000 troops in Afghanistan.
US and British commanders have been surprised by the Taliban's resilience and willingness to take on Nato forces, particularly in the south of the country, where fighting has been intense.
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