With new web portal, AFRICOM aims to address civilian casualties

U.S. Africa Command pledges to maintain transparency about allegations

Published: April 30, 2020 4:03pm

Updated: April 30, 2020 4:41pm

A major U.S. military command is creating a website on which people can report civilian casualties resulting from U.S. operations in Africa, officials announced this week. 

The web page will allow people to report suspected incidents in Somali, Arabic and other languages, U.S. Africa Command announced.

The announcement came in conjunction with a new program to release quarterly reports on the status of allegations about civilian casualties. 

The programs are designed to offer increased transparency, says Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, who leads U.S. Africa Command, known as AFRICOM.

“It is important that our partners and the public understand our commitment to minimizing collateral damage while conducting military operations,” Townsend said in a statement. “Where we come up short, we will admit it openly."

Townsend also denied allegation that AFRICOM is waging covert attacks in Africa.

“There is no secret air or shadow war as some allege,” he said. “How can there be when the whole world knows we are assisting Somalia in their fight against al-Shabaab terrorists? When we publicly announce every single airstrike we conduct? When we publicly admit to our mistakes? Unlike al-Shabaab we do everything in our power to avoid civilian casualties and that is not changing on my watch.”

On Monday, AFRICOM acknowledged that two civilians were killed and three injured in an airstrike last year in Somalia.

The new African-language reporting site will be active around the end of May, AFRICOM said. 

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