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US Military Escalation Leads to Record Civilian Deaths in Afghanistan

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According to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and a newly released UN report, there were 800 civilian casualties between January and May 2009. Armed clashes between insurgents, the US military, and the ISAF are up 24 percent this year, and have displaced tens of thousands more people. With over 1,000 recorded incidents of violence in May alone, Afghanistan is experiencing the worst security since the war began. And to make matters worse, the UN reported concluded, “The next period will likely experience an increase in the level of violence compared with the same period last year, including complex suicide attacks, intimidation and assassinations carried out by insurgents.” That period, unfortunately, coincides with the Afghan presidential and provincial council elections slated for August.

The deadly consequences of militarizing the political crisis in Afghanistan may seem logical, but they're no less disturbing as we see staggering numbers of civilian casualties from this war. Complicating matters is the fact that insurgents have been targeting NGOs and aid workers. In the past six months, there were over 60 security incidents involving NGOs, with many aid workers reported killed or kidnapped. Such violence undercuts the chances of already underfunded humanitarian efforts, and yet the Pentagon has responded with more troops and airstrikes, creating more violence, more casualties, more anti-American sentiment, and the need for even more aid.

ZP Heller is the editorial director of Brave New Films. He has written for The American Prospect, AlterNet, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Huffington Post, covering everything from politics to pop culture.

 
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