Civilian toll is enormous - The AGE letters page, Wednesday 29th April 2015

The AGE  letters page,  Wednesday 29th April 2015

Civilian toll is enormous

Now that Anzac Day is over, one hopes (probably in vain) that we might as a nation take a more honest look at warfare and what it does to all its victims, the vast majority of whom are civilians.  We've had non-stop accounts of the emotional impact of those who have stood in modern-day Turkey and imagined their brave forbears a century ago.  Where are the emotional accounts of civilians caught in the more recent wars that Australia has supported; civilians terrorised by aerial bombing; civilians disfigured by inhumane weapons; and civilians fleeing with nothing, their communities and livelihoods destroyed?

Not that the civilian toll of Australia's wars has ever been much of a priority in our official accounting. In Afghanistan, for example, systematic collection of data about civilian casualties did not even begin until 2007, six years after the war started.

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War recently issued a report, Body Count, which estimated that the "war on terror" has killed, directly or indirectly, 1.3million people.  Whatever the civilian component, it is almost certainly a staggering figure. It's time to remember war's unwilling participants. 

Dr Sue Wareham, Medical Association for Prevention of War