The Ahmadi family survivors continue waiting for compensation

Children playing with a kite Children playing with a kite Sohaib Ghyasi on Unsplash

13 October 2021

A U.S. drone killed Zemari Ahmadi and nine family members. Now, their relatives are waiting for compensation

Zemari Ahmadi, an aid worker, and his family were killed by a U.S. drone targeting a supposed member of the Islamic terrorist group ISIS-K. On 17 September, General Kenneth McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, conceded that there was no connection between terrorism and the civilians victims and that it was a “tragic mistake”. However, even if the Pentagon declared they were considering making an ex gratia compensation payment, Emal Ahmady, brother of Zemari, said no one had contacted him yet.

Zemari was the sole breadwinner for his family, and now the survivors are under Emal’s care – a jobless father in a wretched country who lost a 3-year-old daughter in the explosion. In an interview, he affirmed, “We lost 10 members of our family. It’s very difficult for me, for our family, for all of us.” The family is also asking the U.S. government to resettle them to a safer place because Zemari was working for Nutrition & Education International, a non-profit based in California, and the remaining family members have now become a target for the Taliban regime. 

The sudden admission of error by the U.S. military is extremely uncommon, and the track record for awarding condolence payments to non-combatants is very poor. Some reports estimate that about 71,000 non-combatants have been killed in the Afghanistan war since the United States invaded in 2001. Annie Shiel, a senior advisor for U.S. policy at the Washington-based Center for Civilians in Conflict, explained, “When it comes to ex gratia payments specifically, once the United States  investigates and confirms civilian casualties, the decision to offer an ex gratia payment is a matter of the commander’s discretion.” Nonetheless, in a case like the Ahmadi family, where civilian deaths are confirmed and the survivors reachable by the U.S. government, the latter should decide to offer payment.


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Author: Melissa Viselli; Editor: Andrew Goodell


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