airstrike in Afghanistan in May killed 39 civilians, among them 14 children and
one woman: UN
FINDS ALLEGED DRUG FACILITIES WERE NOT LAWFUL TARGETS – AIRSTRIKES CAUSED
SIGNIFICANT CIVILIAN CASUALTIES
GENEVA – A United Nations special report, which examines the impact on
civilians of United States’ airstrikes on alleged drug-processing facilities on
5 May 2019 in Afghanistan, determines that the operation caused a large number
of civilian casualties. The report also examines the legal framework applicable
to this incident.
verifies 39 civilian casualties
2019, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), together with
representatives of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission,
conducted a site visit to areas impacted by the strikes in Farah province’s
Bakwa district, as part of its extensive fact-finding into the 5 May incident.
Report on Airstrikes on Alleged Drug-Processing Facilities was released
9th October 2019.
verified 39 civilian casualties, among them 14 children and one woman, from
multiple airstrikes on more than 60 sites that the United States
Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) identified as drug-production facilities in Bakwa
district and in parts of the neighbouring Delaram district of Nimroz province.
the UN is working to verify credible reports of at least 37 additional civilian
casualties, the majority of whom were women and children.
airstrikes on alleged drug-processing facilities had taken place before, this
was the first time that UNAMA had received reports of a large number of
civilian casualties resulting from such an operation.
assessed there were no civilian casualties resulting from the airstrikes.
The United Nations understands that according to longstanding United States
policy, economic objects that contribute to the war effort of a party to a
conflict are considered legitimate military objectives.
according to international humanitarian law, including international
customary law, facilities that contribute economically or financially
to the war effort of a party to a conflict are considered civilian objectives.
jointly produced by UNAMA and the UN Human Rights Office,
concludes that drug facilities and associated workers may not be lawfully made
the target of attack and should be protected.
Nations maintains that considering these objects and individuals legitimate
targets dangerously erodes the fundamental principle of distinction, placing
the broader civilian population and infrastructure at risk.
sets out a number of recommendations, including that the appropriate – and
legal – response to illicit drug activity is through law enforcement, not
military operations that endanger civilians.
UNAMA urged all parties to the conflict to strengthen their engagement with the United Nations and reminds them of their responsibility to protect civilians. Peace remains the best protection for civilians affected by armed conflict. UNAMA called on all parties and those who can influence them to work toward political solutions to end the conflict.
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