The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) seems to have a hard time upholding rules of engagement, causing further hardship for civilians in Afghanistan. Following a devastating aerial attack in August last year, the force commander ordered a tightening of the rules.

Nato has issued new military rules of engagement in Afghanistan in an attempt to limit civilian deaths, after the air strike last month which reportedly killed 90 people, including 60 children, it emerged yesterday.
The orders were issued by General David McKiernan, the Nato commander in Afghanistan, who also asked the US central command to reopen an inquiry into the air strike in the western district of Shindand, as video footage surfaced showing the bodies of child victims.

But the new rules apparently do not work.
Last week’s much reported strike on hijacked oil tankers were possibly made in breach of the rules:

International military officials in Afghanistan denied reports on Sunday that an investigation into a deadly air strike ordered by the German Bundeswehr had found it in breach of NATO rules.
ISAF spokesman General Eric Tremblay said NATO investigators were “on the ground” in northern Kunduz province where the bombing took place on Friday, but had not yet reported any findings. Nor had ISAF come up with a definitive death toll, he said.
The Washington Post reported earlier the German commander who ordered the air strike had possibly been in breach of NATO rules as he based the call on just one intelligence source.
The newspaper said a NATO fact-finding team estimated that about 125 people were killed in the bombing near the city of Kunduz, at least two dozen of whom – but perhaps many more – were not insurgents.

The blame game for this botched action becomes obvious in the run-up for the German elections in 3 weeks time. Chancellor Angela Merkel has requested an immediate investigation.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for an urgent investigation into an airstrike in northern Afghanistan, amid tension about who was to blame.
Reports have suggested that civilians were among the dozens of victims of Friday’s German-ordered air strike.
The Kunduz province raid has strained relations between German and US commanders in Afghanistan.
“The German government and I personally want to see a Nato investigative team swiftly put together that will carry out a thorough and quick explanation of what took place,” she said.
Her comments came as the Washington Post reported that the strike may have been ordered in breach of Nato rules.

And now, the report that ISAF-forces stormed through a hospital run by a Swedish charitable organization in violation of international rules.

KABUL (Reuters) – U.S. troops burst into a Swedish charity-run hospital in Afghanistan and tied up patients’ relatives and staff, the charity said on Sunday, in what it called a breach of deals between the military and aid groups.
In a statement issued on Sunday, the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA) said soldiers had entered its hospital in Wardak, south of Kabul, on Wednesday evening without explanation and conducted a search, including of female wards and toilets.
“It is not only a clear violation of globally recognized humanitarian principles about the sanctity of health facilities and staff in areas of conflict but also a clear breach of the civil-military agreement” between aid groups and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, he said.
A press officer for the NATO-led force, Lieutenant-Commander Christine Sidenstricker, said she was aware of an incident but did not have enough information to comment.

International military violently entered SCA Hospital in Wardak – PRESS RELEASE, Kabul, September 6, 2009

On Wednesday evening September 2 at 10 pm coalition vehicles drove up at SCA’s Hospital in Shaniz, Wardak province along the main highway from Kabul to Ghazni. They entered the hospital compound, reportedly without giving any reason or justification for entering the hospital compound. They searched all rooms, even bathrooms, male and female wards. Rooms that were locked were forcefully entered and the doors of the malnutrition ward and the ultrasound ward were broken by force to gain entry. Upon entering the hospital they tied up four employees and two family members of patients at the hospital. SCA staffs as well as patients (even those in beds) were forced out of rooms/wards throughout the search.

On leaving the hospital at around 12 pm, IMF issued verbal “orders”/instructions; that on receiving any patient that could be an insurgent the hospital staff has to report to the Coalition Forces who would then determine if the hospital would be permitted or not of treating such patient.

“This is simply not acceptable. It is not only a clear violation of globally recognized humanitarian principles about the sanctity of health facilities and staff in areas of conflict but also a clear breach of the civil-military agreement between NGOs and ISAF. We demand guarantees from the IMF command that such violations will not be repeated and that this is made clear to commanders in the field. SCA can not and will not tolerate this kind of treatment by the IMF. Nor is the SCA bound by any orders from IMF regarding to whom treatment can be given” says Anders Fange, Country Director, SCA. […]

Time to find an exit strategy for Afghanistan!

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