UNAMA: “Safety and welfare of Afghan people must come first”

11 May 2009

UNAMA: “Safety and welfare of Afghan people must come first”

KABUL - The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) today urged that the planning and implementation of military operations in Afghanistan must take into account the safety of the civilian population.

A joint United States and Government of Afghanistan investigation is currently being carried out into reports of civilian casualties and fighting that took place in the country’s western Farah province last Monday.

Media reports suggest that up to 100 civilians, including women and children, were killed in air strikes carried out by U.S. and coalition forces against Taliban fighters.

“While the numbers of civilian casualties remain disputed, it is clear that a significant number have perished. Whoever caused the loss of these lives must be held accountable. We have always made clear that the safety and the welfare of the Afghan people must come first in the planning and implementation of any military operation,” said UNAMA’s Spokesperson Aleem Siddique, speaking at the Mission’s weekly news conference.

“An important part of the joint investigation that is currently taking place will need to look at the tactics and the ways in which this operation has been planned and implemented. It will be vital for the investigation team to look at exactly what tactics have been used and the impact they have had on the civilians. In all of conversations with the military forces in this country we have made this clear that civilian casualties are unacceptable and every effort that can be made to protect the civilian population must be made,” added Mr Siddique.