Civilians account for 91% of casualties by explosive weapons in cities

Israeli air strikes hit Gaza Strip, about 8 rockets targeted one site in the north of Gaza strip. Israeli air strikes hit Gaza Strip, about 8 rockets targeted one site in the north of Gaza strip. © Photo by Monther Rasheed on iStock

25 May 2021

Over the last ten years, explosive weapons in populated areas have killed and injured civilians 91% of the time, for a total of 238,892 people. 

According to a study conducted by Iain Overton, the executive director of Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), missiles and bombs designed to be used against military targets affect civilians 91% of the time. The study monitored 29,000 incidents from 123 countries among which the deadliest one was the detonation of a truck bomb in Mogadishu, carried out by the al-Shabaab terrorist group, which resulted in 828 people injured and 500 dead. The report’s authors have urged governmnts to agree to an international ban on the use of explosive weapons in urban areas drafted by Ireland which is leading multilateral efforts to create the political declaration. 

AOAV recorded 357,370 deaths and injuries from explosive weapons since 2011. The most affected country was Syria with 92,831 record casualties, of which 84% were civilians. Iraq, with 73,471 recorded victims, caused primarily by the war with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), was the second worst affected territory, followed by Afghanistan (49,107), Pakistan (29,666) and Yemen (24,498). Besides, the latest conflict between Israel and Gaza demonstrated the need for an international agreement to limit the use of explosive weapons in populated areas and avoid further civilian casualties. Indeed, during the 11 days of fighting, at least 243 Palestinian were killed because of the Israeli attacks in Gaza’s denseley populated areas. As a result, Gaza is the ninth most affected territory, with 5,700 civilian casualties recorded among 764 incidents that occurred during the ten years in which the study was conducted.

As a result, humanitarian institutions such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, demand the international community to adopt the political declaration that will be discussed at a United Nations meeting in Geneva later this year. 

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Author: Eleonora Gonnelli; Editor: Carla Leonetti

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