Oregon may take a big first step toward ending the war on drugs this November, with voters set to decide whether the state will decriminalize all drugs through the ballot initiative Measure 110.
The initiative would decriminalize all drugs, including cocaine and heroin, and redirect the savings — along with sales tax revenue from marijuana, which is currently legal in the state — to setting up a drug addiction treatment and recovery program. It’s an attempt to replace the criminal justice approach for drugs with a public health one.
Decriminalization is very different from legalization. In general, decriminalization means the removal of criminal penalties — particularly prison time — for the possession and use of a drug, but not the legalization of sales. So people wouldn’t get arrested for having small amounts of heroin or cocaine on them, but don’t expect stores legally selling either substance to pop up.
Supporters of decriminalization argue that drug misuse and addiction are public health issues, not problems for the criminal justice system. They claim that criminal prohibition leads to hundreds of thousands of unnecessary, racially biased arrests each year in the US — a costly endeavor, straining police resources and contributing to mass incarceration, that does little to actually help people struggling with drug use. Instead, they advocate for resources to be put toward education, treatment, and harm reduction services. Meanwhile, other laws remain on the books to deal with any crime or violence that arises due to drugs.
Opponents argue that decriminalization would remove a powerful deterrent to trying and using drugs, potentially fueling more drug use and addiction. They claim criminal penalties attached to drug possession can also be leveraged — through, say, drug courts — to push people into addiction treatment they otherwise wouldn’t accept. And to the extent there are racial disparities in such arrests, they argue that’s a problem with bias in law enforcement and systemic racism across American society in general, not necessarily a result of drug prohibition itself.
Some critics separately question if the ballot initiative would really direct sufficient funding to addiction treatment. The campaign behind the measure claims, citing state analyses, that it would effectively quadruple state funding to recovery services in particular.
Oregon would be the first state to decriminalize all drugs. To date, the most aggressive steps that states have taken to scale back the war on drugs are to legalize marijuana and to defelonize all drugs, which can still leave criminal penalties like jail or prison time in place. But actual drug decriminalization is untried in the modern US.
Still, Oregon wouldn’t be the first place to decriminalize drugs. Portugal did it in 2001, earning a lot of continued media coverage (including at Vox). The effects seem, on net, positive: Coupled with boosts to drug addiction treatment and harm reduction services, decriminalization seemed to lead to more lifetime drug use overall but less problematic use.
Such an approach could have different results in the US. Supporters are hoping that voters in Oregon, however, will at least be willing to give it a try. If voters embrace the approach, and it works, prohibition opponents could use Oregon to make a case for scaling back the war on drugs more broadly — similar to the approach they’ve taken with marijuana policies.
It begins, however, in Oregon.
Oregon’s Measure 110 would decriminalize all drugs
Oregon’s Measure 110 would remove criminal penalties for the personal, noncommercial possession of a controlled substance, while giving people caught with small amounts of drugs the option to either pay a fine of no more than $100 or get a “completed health assessment” done through an addiction recovery center. The measure would decriminalize all drugs classified Schedule I through IV under federal law, including cocaine, heroin, and meth.
According to the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission, the measure would lead to a roughly 91 percent decrease in drug possession arrests and convictions in Oregon. Black and Native American people, who are currently overrepresented relative to their population for possession arrests and convictions, would disproportionately benefit.
The measure would also direct savings from law enforcement and incarceration costs and tax revenue from marijuana sales to a new drug addiction treatment and recovery program. The funds would be overseen by an oversight council set up by the Oregon Health Authority made up of treatment providers, a harm reduction services provider, a drug researcher, and people who’ve dealt with addiction, among others. The funds will be audited by the secretary of state’s office at least once every two years.
The measure, in other words, takes a two-pronged approach to drug decriminalization: It tries to eliminate the criminal justice system’s role in simple drug possession, while shifting the issue to a public health system by both facilitating health assessments and directing more funds to addiction treatment and harm reduction services.
The potential benefits aren’t just fewer arrests and convictions, but also a reduction in the collateral damage that can come from those arrests and convictions, including a criminal record that makes it harder to get a job, housing, schooling, or a range of social services.
At the same time, the reality is America’s addiction treatment system is still underfunded and underregulated. As Vox’s Rehab Racket series exposed, the current system is full of questionable programs that don’t provide evidence-based treatment but nonetheless can cost tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket.
There’s also some cause for concern that state funds will flow to substandard treatment providers. Local, state, and federal governments already offer some funds and grants for addiction treatment facilities. But many of the agencies that give out these funds often fall under heavy lobbying by the industry — leading them to perpetuate the broken system as it exists today. Oregon’s measure tries to chip away at this problem by setting aside a pot of funds overseen by a council tasked with ensuring the money is spent wisely.
Critics of Measure 110 maintain that it would fail to live up to its promise. They argue that the reallocation of existing spending isn’t enough to fully fund drug addiction treatment services. And some, like Oregon Council for Behavioral Health Executive Director Heather Jefferis, argue the reallocation would take away funds from services, including education and behavioral health, that currently help prevent addiction. “Shifting funds from one part of the continuum of care to another does not equate to increased funding,” Jefferis told me.
The campaign counters, citing in part a state analysis, that Measure 110 would effectively add more than $100 million a year for addiction recovery services in particular — up from the $25 million a year that Oregon currently spends outside of Medicaid and the criminal justice system. “This measure is a big step forward,” Peter Zuckerman, campaign manager for Yes on 110, told me. “But,” he acknowledged, “it doesn’t solve everything.”
The opposition, backed particularly by law enforcement, also argues the measure will lead to more drug use and addiction — as criminal penalties can no longer be used or leveraged to deter people from drug use and direct them to treatment.
While drug courts built on criminal penalties for possession do help some people struggling with drug use, the question is if the threat of jail, prison, or a criminal record is really necessary to get people to treatment. A criminal penalty may even have the opposite effect — deterring people from getting help because they know that, in effect, they’ll be admitting to a crime and possibly exposing themselves to all the consequences that come with that.
Given that decriminalization is so far untried in the US, it’s difficult to say how it would play out. In that sense, Measure 110 would create a real-time experiment for Oregon and the rest of the country.
But first, Oregon’s measure will need to get voters’ approval. It’s unclear how likely it is to pass, due to a lack of polls. But a few big political actors in the state, including the Oregon Democratic Party, have backed the proposal.
Measure 110 is somewhat similar to the Portugal model
There’s no modern example of decriminalization within the US for Oregon voters to draw from. But the measure does very loosely follow the structure of what Portugal did back in 2001: The country decriminalized all drugs, and pushed people toward better-funded and -supported treatment and harm reduction services.
A 2009 report from the libertarian Cato Institute, written by Glenn Greenwald, concluded that decriminalization spared people from the “fear of arrest” when they sought help for their addiction and “freed up resources that could be channeled into treatment and other harm reduction programs.”
After the change, Portugal saw a decrease in drug-related deaths and drops in reported past-year and past-month drug use, according to a 2014 report from the Transform Drug Policy Foundation. But it also saw an increase in lifetime prevalence of drug use, as well as an uptick in reported use among teens after 2007.
Nicholas Kristof wrote in the New York Times in 2017, after visiting Portugal to see its model in action:
After more than 15 years, it’s clear which approach worked better. The United States drug policy failed spectacularly, with about as many Americans dying last year of overdoses — around 64,000 — as were killed in the Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq Wars combined.
In contrast, Portugal may be winning the war on drugs — by ending it. Today, the Health Ministry estimates that only about 25,000 Portuguese use heroin, down from 100,000 when the policy began.
Crucially, Portugal adopted special commissions that attempt to push people with drug addictions to treatment with the threat of penalties, including fines and the revocation of professional licenses. Although the success of the commissions has yet to be thoroughly evaluated, it’s possible that even as decriminalization increased drug use, the commissions and improved access to treatment got so many people off drugs that use fell or held steady overall.
The requirement in Oregon’s measure for a completed health assessment via an addiction recovery center could work similarly to Portugal’s commissions, pushing people to get care instead of paying a fine. But it remains to be seen if these assessments will provide enough encouragement to seek treatment, or if people will generally decide to pay the $100 fine instead.
Also similar to Portugal, Oregon’s measure is pushing to put more money toward addiction treatment. But a lingering question is if the Oregon measure will truly match the scale of Portugal’s big investment into its own addiction treatment system — particularly towards evidence-based approaches like medications for opioid addiction and needle exchanges.
Given these potential differences, Oregon’s approach may not work as well as Portugal’s. But if voters adopt the measure, it would be as close to the Portugal model as any state has gotten in modern times. And if it works, drug policy reformers could leverage the example to spread the idea around the country.
This is part of a broader effort to scale back the war on drugs
Over the past decade, progressives have increasingly called to “end the war on drugs” — citing, in particular, the vast racial disparities in anti-drug law enforcement. While some lawmakers have taken up that call, legislation has often lagged behind what progressive activists — and voters — support. So activists and voters have begun to take matters into their own hands with ballot measures.
Marijuana legalization is one such example. There’s a lot of support for marijuana legalization, with even a majority of Republicans, who are typically more skeptical of drug policy reform, backing the change in public polls. Yet progressive politicians have lagged behind voters on this issue — for instance, former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president, opposes marijuana legalization (though he backs decriminalization).
Rather than wait for politicians to catch up, activists have gone through the state ballot initiative process to get the change they want. In 2012, that approach made Colorado and Washington the first two states to legalize marijuana. Nine more states, and DC, have since followed (although two states, Illinois and Vermont, did so through their legislatures). Four other states have legalization measures on the ballot in November.
Given their successes with marijuana, drug policy reformers are now looking for other ways to scale back the war on drugs through ballot measures. That includes Oregon’s drug decriminalization measure, as well as other ballot measures, including one in Oregon, involving psychedelic substances. The question now is if the voters will be as receptive to these ideas as drug policy reformers hope they are.
If voters do prove receptive, that could make the new measures the beginning of a broader push in the next few years, similar to what the US has already seen with marijuana. But first, we’ll have to see how the vote works out in Oregon this November.
Millions turn to Vox each month to understand what’s happening in the news, from the coronavirus crisis to a racial reckoning to what is, quite possibly, the most consequential presidential election of our lifetimes. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. But our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources. Even when the economy and the news advertising market recovers, your support will be a critical part of sustaining our resource-intensive work. If you have already contributed, thank you. If you haven’t, please consider helping everyone make sense of an increasingly chaotic world: Contribute today from as little as $3.
All the products we found to be the best during our testing this year
Throughout the year, CNN Underscored is constantly testing products — be it coffee makers or headphones — to find the absolute best in each respective category.
Our testing process is rigorous, consisting of hours of research (consulting experts, reading editorial reviews and perusing user ratings) to find the top products in each category. Once we settle on a testing pool, we spend weeks — if not months — testing and retesting each product multiple times in real-world settings. All this in an effort to settle on the absolute best products.
So, as we enter peak gifting season, if you’re on the hunt for the perfect gift, we know you’ll find something on this list that they (or you!) will absolutely love.
Beginner baristas and coffee connoisseurs alike will be pleased with the Baratza Virtuoso+, a conical burr grinder with 40 settings for grind size, from super fine (espresso) to super coarse (French press). The best coffee grinder we tested, this sleek look and simple, intuitive controls, including a digital timer, allow for a consistent grind every time — as well as optimal convenience.
Best drip coffee maker: Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker ($79.95; amazon.com)
During our testing of drip coffee makers, we found the Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker made a consistently delicious, hot cup of coffee, brewed efficiently and cleanly, from sleek, relatively compact hardware that is turnkey to operate, and all for a reasonable price.
Best single-serve coffee maker: Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus ($165; originally $179.95; amazon.com)
Among all single-serve coffee makers we tested, the Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus, which uses pods that deliver both espresso and “regular” coffee, could simply not be beat for its convenience. Intuitive and a snap to use right out of the box, it looks sleek on the counter, contains a detached 60-ounce water reservoir so you don’t have to refill it with each use and delivers perfectly hot, delicious coffee with a simple tap of a lever and press of a button.
Best coffee subscription: Blue Bottle (starting at $11 per shipment; bluebottlecoffee.com)
Blue Bottle’s coffee subscription won us over with its balance of variety, customizability and, most importantly, taste. We sampled both the single-origin and blend assortments and loved the flavor of nearly every single cup we made. The flavors are complex and bold but unmistakably delicious. Beyond its coffee, Blue Bottle’s subscription is simple and easy to use, with tons of options to tailor to your caffeine needs.
Best cold brewer coffee maker: Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot ($25; amazon.com)
This sleek, sophisticated and streamlined carafe produces 1 liter (about 4 1/4 cups) of rich, robust brew in just eight hours. It was among the simplest to assemble, it executed an exemplary brew in about the shortest time span, and it looked snazzy doing it. Plus, it rang up as the second-most affordable of our inventory.
Best nonstick pan: T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid ($39.97; amazon.com)
If you’re a minimalist and prefer to have just a single pan in your kitchen, you’d be set with the T-fal E76597. This pan’s depth gives it multipurpose functionality: It cooks standard frying-pan foods like eggs and meats, and its 2 1/2-inch sides are tall enough to prepare recipes you’d usually reserve for pots, like rices and stews. It’s a high-quality and affordable pan that outperformed some of the more expensive ones in our testing field.
Best blender: Breville Super Q ($499.95; breville.com)
With 1,800 watts of motor power, the Breville Super Q features a slew of preset buttons, comes in multiple colors, includes key accessories and is touted for being quieter than other models. At $500, it does carry a steep price tag, but for those who can’t imagine a smoothie-less morning, what breaks down to about $1.30 a day over a year seems like a bargain.
Best knife set: Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set ($119.74; amazon.com)
The Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set sets you up to easily take on almost any cutting job and is a heck of a steal at just $119.97. Not only did the core knives included (chef’s, paring, utility and serrated) perform admirably, but the set included a bevy of extras, including a full set of steak knives. We were blown away by their solid construction and reliable execution for such an incredible value. The knives stayed sharp through our multitude of tests, and we were big fans of the cushion-grip handles that kept them from slipping, as well as the classic look of the chestnut-stained wood block. If you’re looking for a complete knife set you’ll be proud of at a price that won’t put a dent in your savings account, this is the clear winner.
Best true wireless earbuds: AirPods Pro ($199, originally $249; amazon.com)
Apple’s AirPods Pro hit all the marks. They deliver a wide soundstage, thanks to on-the-fly equalizing tech that produces playback that seemingly brings you inside the studio with the artist. They have the best noise-canceling ability of all the earbuds we tested, which, aside from stiff-arming distractions, creates a truly immersive experience. To sum it up, you’re getting a comfortable design, a wide soundstage, easy connectivity and long battery life.
Best noise-canceling headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4 ($278, originally $349.99; amazon.com)
Not only do the WH-1000XM4s boast class-leading sound, but phenomenal noise-canceling ability. So much so that they ousted our former top overall pick, the Beats Solo Pros, in terms of ANC quality, as the over-ear XM4s better seal the ear from outside noise. Whether it was a noise from a dryer, loud neighbors down the hall or high-pitched sirens, the XM4s proved impenetrable. This is a feat that other headphones, notably the Solo Pros, could not compete with — which is to be expected considering their $348 price tag.
Best on-ear headphones: Beats Solo 3 ($119.95, originally $199.95; amazon.com)
The Beats Solo 3s are a phenomenal pair of on-ear headphones. Their sound quality was among the top of those we tested, pumping out particularly clear vocals and instrumentals alike. We enjoyed the control scheme too, taking the form of buttons in a circular configuration that blend seamlessly into the left ear cup design. They are also light, comfortable and are no slouch in the looks department — more than you’d expect given their reasonable $199.95 price tag.
The Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick has thousands of 5-star ratings across the internet, and it’s easy to see why. True to its name, this product clings to your lips for hours upon hours, burritos and messy breakfast sandwiches be damned. It’s also surprisingly moisturizing for such a superior stay-put formula, a combo that’s rare to come by.
The Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner is a longtime customer favorite — hence its nearly 7,500 5-star reviews on Sephora — and for good reason. We found it requires little to no effort to create a precise wing, the liner has superior staying power and it didn’t irritate those of us with sensitive skin after full days of wear. As an added bonus, it’s available in a whopping 12 shades.
The Steelcase Series 1 scored among the highest overall, standing out as one of the most customizable, high-quality, comfortable office chairs on the market. At $415, the Steelcase Series 1 beat out most of its pricier competitors across testing categories, scoring less than a single point lower than our highest-rated chair, the $1,036 Steelcase Leap, easily making it the best bang for the buck and a clear winner for our best office chair overall.
Best ergonomic keyboard: Logitech Ergo K860 ($129.99; logitech.com)
We found the Logitech Ergo K860 to be a phenomenally comfortable keyboard. Its build, featuring a split keyboard (meaning there’s a triangular gap down the middle) coupled with a wave-like curvature across the body, allows both your shoulders and hands to rest in a more natural position that eases the tension that can often accompany hours spent in front of a regular keyboard. Add the cozy palm rest along the bottom edge and you’ll find yourself sitting pretty comfortably.
Best ergonomic mouse: Logitech MX Master 3 ($99.99; logitech.com)
The Logitech MX Master 3 is an unequivocally comfortable mouse. It’s shaped to perfection, with special attention to the fingers that do the clicking. Using it felt like our fingers were lounging — with a sculpted ergonomic groove for nearly every finger.
Best ring light: Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light ($25.99; amazon.com)
The Emart 10-Inch Standing Ring Light comes with a tripod that’s fully adjustable — from 19 inches to 50 inches — making it a great option whether you’re setting it atop your desk for video calls or need some overhead lighting so no weird shadows creep into your photos. Its three light modes (warm, cool and a nice mix of the two), along with 11 brightness levels (among the most settings on any of the lights we tested), ensure you’re always framed in the right light. And at a relatively cheap $35.40, this light combines usability and affordability better than any of the other options we tested.
Best linen sheets: Parachute Linen Sheet Set (starting at $149; parachute.com)
Well made, luxurious to the touch and with the most versatile shopping options (six sizes, nine colors and the ability to order individual sheets), the linen sheets from Parachute were, by a narrow margin, our favorite set. From the satisfying unboxing to a sumptuous sleep, with a la carte availability, Parachute set the gold standard in linen luxury.
Best shower head: Kohler Forte Shower Head (starting at $74.44; amazon.com)
Hands down, the Kohler Forte Shower Head provides the best overall shower experience, offering three distinct settings. Backstory: Lots of shower heads out there feature myriad “settings” that, when tested, are pretty much indecipherable. The Forte’s three sprays, however, are each incredibly different and equally successful. There’s the drenching, full-coverage rain shower, the pulsating massage and the “silk spray” setting that is basically a super-dense mist. The Forte manages to achieve all of this while using only 1.75 gallons per minute (GPM), making it a great option for those looking to conserve water.
Best humidifier: TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier (starting at $49.99; amazon.com)
The TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier ramped up the humidity in a room in about an hour, which was quicker than most of the options we tested. More importantly, though, it sustained those humidity levels over the longest period of time — 24 hours, to be exact. The levels were easy to check with the built-in reader (and we cross-checked that reading with an external reader to confirm accuracy). We also loved how easy this humidifier was to clean, and the nighttime mode for the LED reader eliminated any bright lights in the bedroom.
Best TV: TCL 6-Series (starting at $579.99; bestbuy.com)
With models starting at $599.99 for a 55-inch, the TCL 6-Series might give you reverse sticker shock considering everything you get for that relatively small price tag. But can a 4K smart TV with so many specification standards really deliver a good picture for $500? The short answer: a resounding yes. The TCL 6-Series produces a vibrant picture with flexible customization options and handles both HDR and Dolby Vision, optimization standards that improve the content you’re watching by adding depth to details and expanding the color spectrum.
Best streaming device: Roku Ultra ($99.99; amazon.com)
Roku recently updated its Ultra streaming box and the 2020 version is faster, thanks to a new quad-core processor. The newest Ultra retains all of the features we loved and enjoyed about the 2019 model, like almost zero lag time between waking it up and streaming content, leading to a hiccup-free streaming experience. On top of that, the Roku Ultra can upscale content to deliver the best picture possible on your TV — even on older-model TVs that don’t offer the latest and greatest picture quality — and supports everything from HD to 4K.
Best carry-on luggage: Away Carry-On ($225; away.com)
The Away Carry-On scored high marks across all our tests and has the best combination of features for the average traveler. Compared with higher-end brands like Rimowa, which retail for hundreds more, you’re getting the same durable materials, an excellent internal compression system and eye-catching style. Add in smart charging capabilities and a lifetime warranty, and this was the bag to beat.
Best portable charger: Anker PowerCore 13000 (starting at $31.99; amazon.com)
The Anker PowerCore 13000 shone most was in terms of charging capacity. It boasts 13,000 mAh (maH is a measure of how much power a device puts out over time), which is enough to fully charge an iPhone 11 two and a half times. Plus, it has two fast-charging USB Type-A ports so you can juice a pair of devices simultaneously. While not at the peak in terms of charging capacity, at just $31.99, it’s a serious bargain for so many mAhs.
Trump’s misleading tweet about changing your vote, briefly explained
Searches for changing one’s vote did not trend following the recent presidential debate, and just a few states appear to have processes for changing an early vote. But that didn’t stop President Trump from wrongly saying otherwise on Tuesday.
In early morning posts, the president falsely claimed on Twitter and Facebook that many people had Googled “Can I change my vote?” after the second presidential debate and said those searching wanted to change their vote over to him. Trump also wrongly claimed that most states have a mechanism for changing one’s vote. Actually, just a few states appear to have the ability, and it’s rarely used.
Trump’s claim about what was trending on Google after the debate doesn’t hold up. Searches for changing one’s vote were not among Google’s top trending searches for the day of the debate (October 22) or the day after. Searches for “Can I change my vote?” did increase slightly around the time of the debate, but there is no way to know whether the bump was related to the debate or whether the people searching were doing so in support of Trump.
It was only after Trump’s posts that searches about changing your vote spiked significantly. It’s worth noting that people were also searching for “Can I change my vote?” during a similar period before the 2016 presidential election.
Google declined to comment on the accuracy of Trump’s post.
Trump also claimed that these results indicate that most of the people who were searching for how to change their vote support him. But the Google Trends tool for the searches he mentioned does not provide that specific information.
Perhaps the most egregiously false claim in Trump’s recent posts is about “most states” having processes for changing your early vote. In fact, only a few states have such processes, and they can come with certain conditions. For instance, in Michigan, voters who vote absentee can ask for a new ballot by mail or in person until the day before the election.
The Center for Election Innovation’s David Becker told the Associated Press that changing one’s vote is “extremely rare.” Becker explained, “It’s hard enough to get people to vote once — it’s highly unlikely anybody will go through this process twice.”
At the time of publication, Trump’s false claims had drawn about 84,000 and 187,000 “Likes” on Twitter and Facebook, respectively. Trump’s posts accelerated searches about changing your vote in places like the swing state of Florida, where changing one’s vote after casting it is not possible. Those numbers are a reminder of the president’s capacity to spread misinformation quickly.
On Facebook, the president’s post came with a label directing people to Facebook’s Voting Information Center, but no fact-checking label. Twitter had no annotation on the president’s post. Neither company responded to a request for comment.
That Trump is willing to spread misinformation to benefit himself and his campaign isn’t a surprise. He does that a lot. Still, just days before a presidential election in which millions have already voted, this latest episode demonstrates that the president has no qualms about using false claims about voting to cause confusion and sow doubt in the electoral process.
Open Sourced is made possible by Omidyar Network. All Open Sourced content is editorially independent and produced by our journalists.
The United States is in the middle of one of the most consequential presidential elections of our lifetimes. It’s essential that all Americans are able to access clear, concise information on what the outcome of the election could mean for their lives, and the lives of their families and communities. That is our mission at Vox. But our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources. Even when the economy and the news advertising market recovers, your support will be a critical part of sustaining our resource-intensive work. If you have already contributed, thank you. If you haven’t, please consider helping everyone understand this presidential election: Contribute today from as little as $3.
Nearly 6,000 civilian casualties in Afghanistan so far this year
From January to September, 5,939 civilians – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded – were casualties of the fighting, the UN says.
Nearly 6,000 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first nine months of the year as heavy fighting between government forces and Taliban fighters rages on despite efforts to find peace, the United Nations has said.
From January to September, there were 5,939 civilian casualties in the fighting – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a quarterly report on Tuesday.
“High levels of violence continue with a devastating impact on civilians, with Afghanistan remaining among the deadliest places in the world to be a civilian,” the report said.
Civilian casualties were 30 percent lower than in the same period last year but UNAMA said violence has failed to slow since the beginning of talks between government negotiators and the Taliban that began in Qatar’s capital, Doha, last month.
The Taliban was responsible for 45 percent of civilian casualties while government troops caused 23 percent, it said. United States-led international forces were responsible for two percent.
Most of the remainder occurred in crossfire, or were caused by ISIL (ISIS) or “undetermined” anti-government or pro-government elements, according to the report.
Ground fighting caused the most casualties followed by suicide and roadside bomb attacks, targeted killings by the Taliban and air raids by Afghan troops, the UN mission said.
Fighting has sharply increased in several parts of the country in recent weeks as government negotiators and the Taliban have failed to make progress in the peace talks.
The Taliban has been fighting the Afghan government since it was toppled from power in a US-led invasion in 2001.
Washington blamed the then-Taliban rulers for harbouring al-Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda was accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks.
Calls for urgent reduction of violence
Meanwhile, the US envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said on Tuesday that the level of violence in the country was still too high and the Kabul government and Taliban fighters must work harder towards forging a ceasefire at the Doha talks.
Khalilzad made the comments before heading to the Qatari capital to hold meetings with the two sides.
“I return to the region disappointed that despite commitments to lower violence, it has not happened. The window to achieve a political settlement will not stay open forever,” he said in a tweet.
There needs to be “an agreement on a reduction of violence leading to a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire”, added Khalilzad.
1/4 I return to the region disappointed that despite commitments to lower violence, it has not happened. The window to achieve a political settlement will not stay open forever. https://t.co/hVl4b032W6
— U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad (@US4AfghanPeace) October 27, 2020
A deal in February between the US and the Taliban paved the way for foreign forces to leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counterterrorism guarantees from the Taliban, which agreed to sit with the Afghan government to negotiate a permanent ceasefire and a power-sharing formula.
But progress at the intra-Afghan talks has been slow since their start in mid-September and diplomats and officials have warned that rising violence back home is sapping trust.
The 10 Best Deals of November 23, 2020
Too bright to breed
Toronto FC hoping to make MLS Cup run having spent much of 2020 far from home
Astros bash way past Athletics to reach ALCS
Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum
Toronto FC hoping to make MLS Cup run having spent much of 2020 far from home
Sports2 months ago
Astros bash way past Athletics to reach ALCS
Tech4 weeks ago
Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum
Sports2 weeks ago
Toronto FC hoping to make MLS Cup run having spent much of 2020 far from home
Tech4 months ago
Check out some wonderful Playdate game demos, including a low-fi Doom
Food2 months ago
Puerto Rican Piñon
Tech4 months ago
Still no first stimulus check? How to track it and report your absent payment to the IRS – CNET
Tech4 months ago
Spotify Duo vs. Family vs. Individual: Which Premium Spotify plan is best? – CNET
Science3 months ago
Elon Musk promises demo of a working Neuralink device on Friday