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An Explosive Situation: AOAV’s Explosive Violence Monitor 2012

An Explosive Situation reveals the cost of the use of explosive weapons for unarmed civilians, including children.

AOAV recorded a 26% increase in the number of civilians who were killed and injured by bombings around the world in 2012, up from 2011. More than 27,000 civilians were reportedly killed and injured by weapons such as rockets, air-dropped bombs, and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

91% of people killed and injured by bombings in populated areas were civilians. Most of the explosive violence last year happened in places like markets, residential neighbourhoods, and places of worship.

Steven Smith, AOAV’s Chief Executive, said:“Explosive weapons kill and injure civilians every day in places where they have a right to feel safe. The data AOAV has gathered in 2012 makes it clear that this issue isn’t going away. This can’t be seen as simply business as usual.”

AOAV’s report is drawn from more than 500 English-language media sources from around the world. It captures only a snapshot of the real extent of suffering caused by explosive violence. The data collected still paints a grim picture of a world where civilians, not armed actors, bear the brunt of bombings.

Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria were the worst affected countries in 2012. Eighty per cent of the civilian casualties were recorded in these five countries. Bombs and shells killed and injured civilians across the world; over fifty countries were affected by explosive violence last year.

Explosive weapons share common characteristic of projecting blast, heat, and often fragmentation from a point of detonation. They include a variety of munitions. The use of certain types of explosive weapons causing wide-area effects such as mortars, rockets, artillery, and large aircraft bombs in such populated areas stood out as extremely harmful.

“Nine out of ten casualties we recorded from the use of mortars in 2012 were civilians. These weapons with wide-area impacts like rockets and air-dropped bombs are entirely unacceptable for use in populated areas,” said Katherine Harrison, Policy and Research Manager at AOAV and editor of the report.

More than half of all civilian casualties (60%) recorded were caused by IEDs, including car bombs, suicide bombs, and roadside bombs. “Using these deadly devices in populated areas like crowded streets and markets shows scant regard for humanitarian principles. Governments, faith leaders, and civil society must join in condemning those who deliberately kill and maim innocent civilians with IEDs,” said Smith.

“It is high time for states to come together to take on this problem. We need stronger rules to stop the bombing of civilians in populated areas, and strong voices for change to make this happen. It is an outrage that such harm continues,” said Harrison.

AOAV is a founding member of the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW), a coalition of NGOs working to prevent the suffering caused by explosive weapons. UK based organisations Oxfam International and Save the Children are also members.

Click here to download the full report.

Download our infographics: Key findings | Comparing 2012 and 2011 | Hardest-hit provinces of Syria | Deadliest weapons


AOAV is working to reduce armed violence - please help us by sharing our work: