AOAV: Explosive Violence Monitor 2021

People walking near a rocket in the ground People walking near a rocket in the ground © AP Photo/Leo Correa

This is a brief presentation of the annual Report by AOAV concerning the global impact of explosive weapons during 2021.

On 2 April, Action On Armed Violence (AOAV) published its annual report about the harm caused by explosive weapons to civilians in 2021. AOAV precises that the data used for the report are taken from English-language-media reporting and cannot represent the total impact of explosive weapons on civilians during the whole year, but only the majority of them. The organization started this huge annual documentation in 2010 with the aim of ending the use of explosive weapons having wide-area effects. The data analyzed in this last report underline the extreme urgency to achieve this goal.

Concerning the data for 2021, it has been reported that the usage of explosive weapons resulted in 19,473 deaths and injuries worldwide; moreover, 89 percent of individuals hurt by explosive weapons in inhabited areas were reported to be civilians. During more than 10 years of research, AOAV found out that, when explosive weapons were used in inhabited areas, nine out of ten fatalities and injuries caused were civilians. In this regard, the report of 2021 is particularly alarming, as it represents the first year since 2015 in which civilian casualties caused by explosive weapons have risen dramatically, according to AOAV. Furthermore, with 13 percent of all civilian casualties, it was also the year with the greatest percentage of kid deaths since 2011 – when child deaths represented 7 percent.

While this data emphasizes the immediate effects of explosive weapons on civilian life, their long-term effects, such as the damage to infrastructure, displacement, and psychological effects, cause millions of additional people to suffer.

For what concerns the situation of single countries, both Afghanistan and Syria had high levels of civilian casualties because of explosive weapons for the second year in a row. Also, Gaza, Yemen, Iraq, and Ethiopia saw a raise in civilian deaths. Among these, the scenario in Gaza is particularly alarming as the country registered an increase in civilian casualties of 16,322%, from nine in 2020, to 1,478 in 2021. In the world, incidents caused by explosive weapons were recorded in 57 countries and territories, which represents nine more locations than in 2020.

About the 2021 Explosive Violence Monitor, Iain Overton, Executive Director of Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), stated that: “AOAV’s data continues to show the disproportionate impact explosive violence has on civilians, particularly when used in populated areas. […] States must sign up to the political declaration that is currently being developed that will ensure civilians are protected from the use of explosive weapons in these areas.”

Overall, it is evident from the report that in 2021 it was registered a general increase in civilian deaths caused by explosive weapons and that stronger actions are needed in order to control the use of these weapons.


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by Alexia Tenneriello

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