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article imageLocations of drone attacks changing to Afghanistan and Yemen

By Ken Hanly     Mar 19, 2014 in World
The UN Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism Ben Emmerson reported that strikes were down in Pakistan with none killed in 2013 but in Afghanistan civilian casualties rose in 19 drone strikes to at least 59 civilian casualties.
In Yemen also Emmerson noted a sharp rise in the number of strikes: "The frequency of armed drone strikes appears to have intensified, particularly during the closing months of 2013, with a sharp escalation in the number of reported civilian casualties." One of the worst incidents was the attack on a wedding convoy that killed at least 12 civilians, turning a wedding into a funeral,
Emmerson said that there were no reports of civilian deaths in Pakistan through strikes in the tribal areas during 2013. This year strikes seem to be on hold while there are ongoing talks with the Taliban and the Pakistan government. There were just 27 recorded strikes in Pakistan in 2013. Attacks peaked in 2010 at 128. Amnesty International the rights group cautioned that Emmerson's report was based only on information given to him. Mustafa Qadri, an Amnesty Researcher in Pakistan notes: "Last year there were some reports that specific drone strikes resulted in civilian casualties [in Pakistan], but owing to the prevailing secrecy of the US programme and restrictions on access to these remote and lawless areas, it was impossible for us to investigate these claims further," He adds that it is impossible to be certain about the issues because of lack of U.S, transparency and questions of who is to be classified as a combatant or otherwise a legitimate target.
Emmerson's report recommends that the UN adopt a resolution that would urge countries to "comply with their obligations under international law" and launching independent fact-finding inquiries into strikes in which civilians are reported to have been injured or killed."
Drone strikes now seem to be frequently centered in Yemen with four drone strikes happening in the country over the last two weeks of seven so far this year. The strikes are targeting suspected operatives of Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP). The most recent strike is said to have killed Moajab bin Aziz alleged to be a local AQAP commander and his bodyguard.
Pro-US president Mansour Hadi supports the strikes even though the parliament passed a motion against them and the National Dialogue also passed a resolution to ban them. There have also been strikes this year in Somalia.
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