The Ministry of Defence has paid out on average just £3,061 to the families of Afghan nationals killed by British military activity in the country.
Figures released by the Government reveal the total cost of compensation for Afghan deaths during the 10 years of the conflict was £569,347, paid to the families of 186 victims.
At the same time, the MoD paid out £307,000 to compensate 203 Afghan men, women and children who were injured by coalition activity in the country – equivalent to £1,512 per person. By far the most compensation was paid for property damage. Over the period of the conflict, the MoD issued £4.22m for just under 4,000 claims – an average of £1,000 each.
The figures were released by the Government in a Freedom of Information request. The MoD said they were “ex-gratia” payments to individuals affected by operations.
But they do not include claims for Afghans who say they were unlawfully detained or injured in custody by British forces. The MoD said the progression of these claims were “still at a comparatively early stage”.
The “fatality claims” are understood to include the deaths of Afghan civilians in botched air strikes, crossfire and road accidents involving British forces in the 10-year fight against the Taliban.
The response from the MoD said the levels of payment made reflected “local custom, practice and economic factors and were broadly comparable with the compensation schemes of other countries involved in the conflict”.
The payments, they added, did “not affect the rights of civilians to make a formal claim for compensation”.
But pressure groups have said the size of the compensation for people who had sometimes lost an income earner or their entire family was pitifully low – and far less than the amounts paid to UK troops injured in combat in Afghanistan. Those payments have been, on average, £73,000.
A United Nations report last year found that the number of civilians killed or injured in the first six months of 2014 was nearly 5,000, the highest level since UN records began in 2009.