Afghanistan: US Bomb Kills Civilians, Rebuilding Efforts Continue

US bombs were responsible for the deaths of 11 civilians in Afghanistan earlier this week, according to the Agence France Presse. Considered the most serious mistake by the US military in Afghanistan since the accidental bombing of an Afghan wedding party last June, the 1,000-pound laser-guided bomb struck a civilian home, killing seven women and four men inside. Coinciding with mounting civilian casualties in the war with Iraq, the incident highlights the painful consequences of war. Amnesty International (AI) issued a statement yesterday urging an investigation of the misfire. AI also stressed that “Civilian casualties cannot be allowed–neither in Afghanistan nor in Iraq–to become an acceptable feature of war,” according to a press release.

Elsewhere in war-torn Afghanistan, much work remains to be done. The Afghan Rural Reconstruction and Development Minister Hanif Atmar yesterday announced the new National Solidarity Program (NSP), which will provide 4,000 rural villages with $95 million in federal grants. Unlike many foreign humanitarian projects, under the NSP, village leaders will have the authority to distribute monies, as they deem appropriate. The World Bank has already agreed to fund $22 million for the project; Norway and Denmark are expected to fund the remaining $73 million, reported the Associated Press. However, there is a concern among advocates for Afghan women, including the Feminist Majority Foundation, the Afghan women will be excluded from this grant program.

Meanwhile, at Kabul University, 17 students including seven women, recently earned computer networking skills certificates from the Cisco Networking Academy, developed to train 200 students on IT. One program graduate, Rita Dorani told Reuters, “My message for all Afghan women is to try as much as possible to learn about computers, because it is essential for every man and woman to be aware of this global technology.” Supervised by the UN Development Program (UNDP), project director Marc Lepage said plans are in the works for similar programs in other regions of the country, reported Reuters.

TAKE ACTION Urge Congress to Appropriate Funds for Peace Troops and Reconstruction in Afghanistan


Reuters 4/8/03; Associated Press 4/9/03; AFP 4/9/03

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