Sunday, 2 August 2009
Britain has 9,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan. Since the 2001 US-led invasion, a total of 191 British servicemen and women have died there—more than in six years of war and occupation in Iraq.
It is estimated to have cost more than £12 billion—£190 for every man, woman and child in the UK, enough to pay for 23 new hospitals, 60,000 additional teachers or 77,000 nurses. The £9 billion military bill admitted to by the Ministry of Defence does not include the hidden costs for supporting injured troops, veterans and the families of personnel killed.
At least 218 soldiers have suffered “life-changing injuries” since April 2006 alone—and more than 50 personnel have undergone amputations following injuries.
Worst of all, more than 30,000 Afghan civilians are estimated to have been killed in the conflict. No figures are available for insurgent deaths.
In the face of this unfolding nightmare, and fueled by an escalating British death toll in the Helmand province, public opposition to the Afghan war is deepening. The July 28 edition of the Independent published an opinion poll by ComRes showing that the majority of British people want troops to be pulled out of Afghanistan. More than half of voters (52 percent) want troops withdrawn straight away. Some 64 percent said British forces should be removed “as quickly as possible.”
Fully 58 percent of respondents consider the war to be “unwinnable” and oppose sending additional troops to Afghanistan.
An earlier survey conducted by the Canadian-based Angus Reid Research Centre found that 53 percent of Britons oppose military involvement in Afghanistan, while the BBC and Guardian found 56 percent in favour of an immediate pull-out, and an ITN News poll put the figure at 59 percent.
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