Aid groups warn of Afghan troop surge

STRASBOURG, France, April 3 (UPI) -- Eleven aid agencies have warned NATO leaders meeting in France that a troop surge in Afghanistan could lead to more civilian casualties.

A report entitled "Caught in the Conflict," released Friday, called on NATO leaders attending a two-day summit in France and Germany April 3-4 to do more to protect civilians in Afghanistan.


The aid agencies argue the military has in the past used excessive force in its operations, damaging property, killing civilians and eroding support for the international presence. Over half of the 2,100 civilians killed in 2008 died because of military operations, humanitarian groups including Oxfam, ActionAid and Care say.

Unless NATO changes its approach, a troop surge would only lead to "higher levels of displacement, further restrictions to social services, and greater impediments for aid agencies to reach civilians in need of protection and assistance," the report said.

NATO has over 60,000 troops in Afghanistan to fight the Taliban and help rebuild the war-torn country. U.S. President Barack Obama wants to send tens of thousands of additional troops to Afganistan.

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