UK Paid Compensation for at Least 289 Civilian Deaths in Afghanistan, Analysis Shows

The United Kingdom government paid compensation for at least 289 civilian deaths in Afghanistan, including as many as 86 children, analysis shows.

According to a study of internal Ministry of Defense (MoD) documents obtained through freedom of information requests, the British military paid an overall £688,000 ($944,555) for the deaths involved in 189 incidents between 2006 and 2013 — indicating an average of £2,380 ($3,268) for each fatality.

However, some of the payouts were combined with injuries and property damage, which meant that the average was “somewhat inflated,” Murray Jones, author of the report by London-based charity Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), said.

One of the most serious incidents listed in the documents was a payout of £4,223.60 ($5,798) a month after four children “were shot and killed” by the International Security Assistance Force in December 2009.

Another incident in December 2009 saw the youngest recorded casualty — a three-year-old boy “killed by shock from controlled explosion” during an operation to clear an improvised explosive device.

The report said that the MoD documents cited the deaths of 16 children, but the true number could be as high as 86 by including the terms “son,” “daughter,” or “nephew” mentioned in some cases.

“These files do not make for easy reading. The banality of language means hundreds of tragic deaths, including dozens of children, read more like an inventory,” Jones said.

According to an MoD spokesperson, common law principles, as well as local customs and practices, determined the amount of compensation paid in each case.

“Every civilian death is a tragedy and the UK always seeks to minimize the risk of civilian casualties through our rigorous targeting processes, but that risk can never be removed entirely,” the spokesperson told AOAV.

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