Ah, thank heavens for NATO, those white guardians of light and order. And boo hiss to those nasty old Russians. It’s a good job ‘we’ don’t behave like ‘them’. NATO is proof of ‘our’ sanity (in both senses: rationality and cleanliness), isn’t it?
Human Rights Watch has conducted a thorough investigation of civilian deaths as a result of NATO action. On the basis of this investigation, Human Rights Watch has found that there were ninety separate incidents involving civilian deaths during the seventy-eight day bombing campaign. Some 500 Yugoslav civilians are known to have died in these incidents.
We determined the intended target in sixty-two of the ninety incidents. Military installations account for the greatest number, but nine incidents were a result of attacks on non-military targets that Human Rights Watch believes were illegitimate. (Human Rights Watch is currently preparing a separate report with a full analysis of our legal objections to the choice of certain targets.) These include the headquarters of Serb Radio and Television in Belgrade, the New Belgrade heating plant, and seven bridges that were neither on major transportation routes nor had other military functions.
Thirty-three incidents occurred as a result of attacks on targets in densely populated urban areas (including six in Belgrade). Despite the exclusive use of precision-guided weapons in attacks on the capital, Belgrade experienced as many incidents involving civilian deaths as any other city. In Nis, the use of cluster bombs was a decisive factor in civilian deaths in at least three incidents. Overall, cluster bomb use by the United States and Britain can be confirmed in seven incidents throughout Yugoslavia (another five are possible but unconfirmed); some ninety to 150 civilians died from the use of these weapons.
Thirty-two of the ninety incidents occurred in Kosovo, the majority on mobile targets or military forces in the field. Attacks in Kosovo overall were more deadly-a third of the incidents account for more than half of the deaths. Seven troubling incidents were as a result of attacks on convoys or transportation links. Because pilots’ ability to properly identify these mobile targets was so important to avoid civilian casualties, these civilian deaths raise the question whether the fact that pilots were flying at high altitudes may have contributed to these civilian deaths by precluding proper target identification. But insufficient evidence exists to answer that question conclusively at this point.
“I just need an answer from NATO: Why did you destroy my home and kill my family?”
That quote, attributed to Faiz Fathi Jfara from the town of Bani Walid, appears in a Human Rights Watch report released this week titled “Unacknowledged Deaths.” The report details eight specific incidents where at least 72 Libyan civilians died as the result of NATO’s bombing campaign. A third of the victims were children under the age of 18. HRW researchers found the remnants of a laser-guided missile in the ruins of the Jfara family compound, where five members of the family, including a nine-year-old girl, were killed when bombs fell on Aug.