AOAV’s latest annual report on explosive violence – Explosive Violence Monitor 2019 – demonstrates that civilians continue to be disproportionately affected by the use of explosive weapons. AOAV has, since 2011, recorded the global impact of explosive violence as reported in English language media: this data is not an attempt to capture every casualty of every incident around the world, and as such does not represent the total impact of explosive weapons on civilians in 2019. The true casualty figures are likely much higher, and beyond those killed and injured in the immediate blast, an even greater number of civilians are affected as a result of damage to essential infrastructure and services.
Even so, the harms recorded illustrate the stark urgency of addressing the impact of explosive weapons on civilians. Civilians continue to constitute the majority of casualties from the use of explosive weapons, especially when such weapons are used in populated areas such as cities, towns and villages.
In 2019, AOAV recorded 29,485 deaths and injuries as a result of the use of explosive weapons. Some of the world’s most active conflicts – in Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, as well as Somalia and Libya – saw the highest number of civilian deaths and injuries, with over 8,774 deaths and injuries (83% of them civilians) from explosive weapons reported in Syria alone. Notably, the majority of recorded deaths and injuries were caused by manufactured explosive weapons (52%) as opposed to improvised explosive devices (48%).
This year’s report demonstrates a continued and consistent pattern of harm: when explosive weapons were used in populated areas, on average nine in every ten of the deaths and injuries caused were civilians. In 2019, of those reported harmed by explosive weapons in populated areas, 90% were civilians. This compares to a civilian casualty rate of 13% in other areas where explosive weapons were used. In addition, civilian casualties in populated areas accounted for 92% of total civilian casualties.
A clear collective commitment is urgently needed on this vital humanitarian issue. Negotiations to develop an international political declaration to address the demonstrated impact of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas are currently ongoing. INEW continues to advocate for the declaration to include a full recognition of the myriad harms that arise from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, and commitments to act to provide greater protection.