Friday, July 11, 2014

Civilians: The New Target

                War. The event that most humans despair, which causes them to awake every night in cold sweat. The event that haunts every generation, because it robs sons from fathers and torments mothers with images of what her child promise if he lived longer. But these parents hide these thoughts behind brave smiles as they wave farewell to their sons as they step through the terminal, ready to defend the cause which they believe in and are willingly to die for.
                At least, though, these brave soldiers accept the probability of their demise when they enrolled into the army. Today, soldiers no longer fight in lonely fields far away from towns similar to battles during the Civil War; instead, they often fight their conflicts in the middle of cities, apartments, home, parks, or any other place swarming with civilian life. The advances in weaponry, from the popular Burnside Carbine in the 1860s, which effectively shot a bullet each minute, to an AK-47, which rapidly shots bullets in seconds, creates permanent damage to unfortunate families in the war zone before the conscience can intervene. Thus, during the twentieth century, a new type of war emerged, one waged on innocent civilians caught helplessly during these armed conflicts.
               In 1900, historians estimated that civilian fatalities ranged around five percent; by the end of WW2, it climbed to sixty five percent. At the recent turn of the century, it escalated to ninety percent during the wars of the 1990s. Since then, almost four million civilians died during these conflicts, like those that persists in Afghanistan. According to a recent UN article, the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) during the Afghan conflict were the leading cause of conflict-related death to civilians, escalating twenty four percent from last year statistics. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recorded that the first half of this year, about 1,564 civilians died, while 3,289 received injuries.  Out of these casualties, 520 were children, a thirty four percent increase since last year. Though death by IEDs remains the second leading cause of death in these regions, the third leading cause of death, suicide bombings, resulted in 583 civilian casualties. Surprisingly, those killed by government forces has been cut down by half, while anti-government attacks nearly doubled in the past couple of years.  
In this image, a minivan holds the bodies of Afghan
citizens, who were killed by American soldiers during
armed conflict.
                The failure of the Afghanistan government to provide any efficient methods of prohibiting this kind of action frustrates me the most. The Taliban claimed its attacks caused 553 civilian casualties, like they are proud for causing these kinds of horrific acts. By the action of both participating forces in armed conflict, they deprive these innocents’ right of live peacefully. But why?  What do armed forces gain for stealing these lives? Perhaps, being frighten out of their minds, soldiers shoot at everything that moves, frighten that if they do not, those that move would kill them. These types of violence that not only dominates this region, but other third world countries with deteriorating governments or approaching a civil war, causes many to live in fear for their lives.  Currently, this terror plagues my extended family in Venezuela, who witnesses these types of violence from the army to the peaceful protesters every day. If the situation becomes worse, they plan to seek refuge in Portugal in order to protect themselves.
                However, most do not have the resource to flee the violence in their country. If they survive the firefights, they head to refugee camps, hoping that the conflict does not follow them there. Then, they spend the rest of their time worrying and praying, just like soldiers’ parents do every night before they go to sleep.

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