NEW YORK – The Biden administration today made public an unclassified version of a congressionally mandated report on the number of civilians it believes were killed or injured in military operations abroad in 2020. The report estimates that a total of 23 civilians were killed and 10 were injured in U.S. military operations in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Nigeria. Nigeria was added to reporting for the first time because the administration states that the U.S. Africa Command “conducted a successful hostage rescue mission” there, with no reports of civilian casualties. The report also contains corrections to prior reports on civilian deaths and injuries as a result of U.S. military operations in 2017, 2018, and 2019, adding a total of approximately 65 deaths and 22 injuries for those years.
Below is a comment from Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, in response:
“Almost 20 years into our country’s unending conflicts, the Biden administration joins its predecessors in undercounting the number of civilians, likely all Black or Brown people, killed or injured in U.S. military operations overseas. Compared to credible independent media accounts, United Nations reporting, and rights groups’ investigations, it is clear that the Defense Department’s investigations and acknowledgment of civilian harm remain woefully inadequate.
“It is striking that in 2020, the Defense Department did not offer or make any amends payments to impacted civilians and families despite the availability of funds from Congress. The grossly inadequate official accounting for the costs and consequences of the United States’ lethal actions abroad prevents meaningful public oversight and accountability for wrongful deaths and perpetual war policies. Civilian victims, their families, and the American public deserve far better than this.”