Explosive weapons causing high proportion of injuries to civilians in Syria

On World Refugee Day, Handicap International released a new factsheet on the conflict-related injuries suffered by internally displaced people and refugees displaced by the ongoing conflict in Syria, documenting the devastating impact of the use of explosive weapons in particular. ‘Syria, a mutilated future: A focus on the persons injured by explosive weapons‘ is based on information collected from over 25,000 individuals with injuries sustained in Syria, who were assessed for support by Handicap International in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.

Of those individuals with conflict-related injuries (67% of the sample), over half had suffered injuries from the use of explosive weapons – with 89% of these individuals suffering temporary or permanent physical impairments. Compounding the impact of explosive weapons on people affected by the war in Syria, the factsheet notes that over 50% of public hospitals and health centers are either partially functioning or closed. The limited availability of both immediate and long-term sustainable care to those affected by explosive weapons use in Syria and displaced within or outside of the country seriously complicates their care, treatment and recovery.


© Handicap International

© Handicap International

Explosive weapons cause a range of often complex physical injuries, but their use also has severe psychological impacts. In the psychosocial assessment by Handicap International of 361 people injured by explosive weapons, 80% showed at least one sign of high psychological distress. In the sample, three quarters of the children under five were so afraid that they could not be calmed, and two thirds of adults felt so angry that they felt out of control and so afraid that nothing could calm them down. Handicap International noted that these impacts will not be limited to those suffering from physical injuries due to the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, but will also likely affect those witnessing or living in close proximity to such incidents.

Based on their documentation of the effects of explosive weapons and as a member of INEW, Handicap International calls on all parties to the conflict in Syria to take immediate action to protect civilians and prevent further casualties, by stopping the use of explosive weapons with wide area effect in populated areas. It also calls for humanitarian access to be ensured, and for the international community to provide adequate assistance to the victims of explosive weapons, including access to healthcare and ensuring their inclusion in society.

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Syria, a mutilated future: A focus on the persons injured by explosive weapons (June 2016)

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