Civilians attacked by explosive weapons in July

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This article is a brief presentation of the report of the Explosive Weapons Monitor on incidents caused by explosive arms around the world

Explosive Weapons Monitor is a civil society initiative, launched by the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW),  which conducts research and analysis on harms and practices stemming from the use of explosive weapons for INEW. It also monitors state responses to this, including in relation to the political declaration, which can help to promote positive state engagement in policy and practice towards strengthening the protection of civilians. 

The report publishes data on incidents of explosive weapon use around the world as reported in open sources. It used data collected by Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) on incidents of explosive weapon use and casualties (including deaths and injuries), and information gathered by Insecurity Insight on explosive weapon use affecting aid access, education and healthcare.

The report states that at least one death or injury from the use of explosive weapons was recorded in 21 countries and territories in July 2021. It claims that 87% of civilians killed or injured were in populated areas, while only 11% were killed or injured in the uninhabited ones. Worldwide, there were 209 recorded incidents of explosive weapon use, causing 1,456 casualties, of which 887 (61%) were civilians. The five most affected countries or territories in terms of civilian casualties from the use of explosive weapons were Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Somalia. In July, across 48 incidents, Afghanistan suffered 263 civilian casualties, 50% of the total casualties (531) from explosive weapons use. July saw a decrease in the civilian casualties of explosive weapons of 27% when compared to June. However, civilian casualties still account for at least half the total number of casualties from explosive weapon use in the country. This is representative of a shift in tactics by the Taliban, as the Islamic fundamentalist group began focussing their efforts on capturing provincial capitals, causing an increase in the number of civilian casualties from the crossfire between the Taliban and Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). In the same month, there were 73 recorded incidents of explosive weapon use in Syria, which caused 236 civilian casualties.

There were ten incidents of explosive weapon use affecting aid access, education and healthcare services in four countries: Afghanistan, Myanmar, Sudan and Syria. A high number of incidents affected healthcare services in Syria: four incidents of explosive weapon use affecting health services were recorded. Emergency responders and a vaccination worker were killed and an ambulance, health office and medical equipment were damaged by air-and ground launched explosive weapons. Moreover, in Myanmar two incidents of explosive weapon use affecting the provision of education were recorded. A primary school in Kachin and a high school in Magway region were damaged by directly emplaced explosive weapons.  These data may include some incidents where the device did not detonate or where there were no civilian casualties, and includes incidents where historical items such as unexploded ordnance were found and which affected the provision of these services.

The report selects information on the type of explosive weapon used too. From 1 January to 31 July the highest number of civilians killed (3,362) have been provoked by directly emplaced explosive, while the second highest number is represented by ground-launched weapons. Among the two types, the former causes the highest amount of education incidents, with 83 provoked incidents. These data are followed by 1,818 dead civilians for air-launched explosives, which is the one that mainly hit people in healthcare sites.   

The research conducted by the Explosive Weapons Monitor on the impacts of explosive weapon use and its findings help to place critical attention on the grave humanitarian consequences and enhance our collective understandings of the devastating impact it frequently has on civilians and their essential services. This in turn, has helped to highlight the need for an effective response that will prevent civilian harm and suffering from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. 

 

Sources:

https://www.explosiveweaponsmonitor.org/sites/default/files/downloads/ewm-monthly-bulletin-july-2021.pdf

 

Author: Jasmina Saric; Editor: Gianpaolo Mascaro

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