The latest annual report on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, issued on 22 June 2015 by Action on Armed Violence, documents the continued scale and intensity of this humanitarian problem and provides further impetus for states to agree on an international commitment to address the bombing and bombardment of towns and cities.
The report analyses the data collected by AOAV over the course of 2014, as part of its ongoing research project begun in 2011 to monitor the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. The pattern of harm in 2014 is consistent with previous years, civilians bearing the brunt of the bombing and bombardment of populated areas.
The key findings listed by AOAV include:
– AOAV recorded 41,847 casualties (people who were killed or injured) by explosive weapons in 2,702 incidents in 2014. In 2013, AOAV had recorded 37,809 casualties from 2,430 incidents.
– Incidents were recorded in 58 countries and territories around the world.
– In 2014, 92% of casualties in populated areas were reported as civilians. This is compared to 34% in other areas.
– On average 16 people were killed or injured in every incident of explosive weapon use in populated areas. In other areas in 2014 the average number was four.
– Child casualties of explosive weapons were reported in 28 countries and territories in 2014.
The report recommends that: “States, international organisations and civil society should work together to further a process to develop an international political commitment to reduce the impact on civilians of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, in line with the recommendations of the UN Secretary-General.”
Political activity to tackle the impact of explosive weapons in populated areas has been stepping up ahead of a meeting to be hosted by Austria in Vienna this coming September. Last week a side event was held on the topic during the ECOSOC humanitarian segment in Geneva, while the UN’s Commission of Inquiry on Gaza recommended today that states place limitations on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. The UNSG is expected to issue his latest report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict in the coming days, reflecting on the impact that explosive weapons continue to have on civilians and the importance of taking action at the international level. All states should welcome the Austrian initiative towards an international commitment to protect civilians from the bombing and bombardment of towns and cities and participate constructively towards it.
Read the full report
Coverage of the report in The Guardian