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Explosive Events: AOAV’s Explosive Violence Monitor 2013

Data from Action on Armed Violence shows that civilian deaths and injuries in 2013 from explosive weapons increased by 15%, compared to 2012.

Civilians bore the brunt of bombings worldwide. AOAV recorded 37,809 deaths and injuries in 2013, 82% of whom were civilians. The trend was even worse when these weapons were used in populated areas.  There civilians made up a staggering 93% of casualties.

These stark figures mean that civilian casualties from bombings and shelling worldwide have gone up for a second consecutive year.

This data is captured in AOAV’s latest report, Explosive Eventswhich analyses the global harm from the use of explosive weapons like missiles, artillery and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

The full report can be downloaded here.


  • Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Lebanon were the most affected countries in the world. More than a third of the world’s civilian casualties from explosive weapons were recorded in Iraq, where AOAV saw a dramatic escalation in bombings with improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
  • Seventy-one percent (71%) of civilian casualties from explosive weapons worldwide were caused by IEDs like car bombs and roadside bombs.
  • Civilian casualties in Iraq increased by 91% from 2012, with more than 12,000 deaths and injuries recorded in the country in 2013.
  • Market places were bombed in 15 countries and territories, causing 3,608 civilian casualties.
  • Ballistic missiles, used only in Syria, caused an average of 49 civilian casualties per incident, the highest for any explosive weapon type.

AOAV IGw EVMP Overview v1.0

“The single biggest incident AOAV recorded in 2013 was a car bombing in Lebanon last summer,” said Director of Policy Iain Overton. “IEDs are increasingly a weapon of choice in populated areas, but still it gets treated as business as usual.  We need to do much more collectively to tackle this growing problem.”

“Yet again last year most explosive violence took place in populated areas, in places where civilians should feel safe,” said AOAV’s Chief Executive Steve Smith MBE. “How can we tolerate a world where going to the market for groceries might see you blown to pieces? Its outrageous, and the bombing of populated areas simply has to stop.”

The report calls for all parties to refrain from using explosive weapons in populated areas. Other key recommendations to address this consistent pattern of harm to civilians are;

  • States should review their policies and practices on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, particularly those which may be expected to impact a wide area.
  • States and users of explosive weapons should work towards the full realisation of the rights of victims, including those killed and injured, their families, and affected communities.
  • Recognising the large number of civilian casualties caused by IEDs, all parties should work on measures which address the high level of humanitarian harm caused by these weapons.



AOAV’s report is drawn from almost 500 different English-language media sources. It captures only a snapshot of worldwide explosive violence as reported in the news media. As such it presents only a low estimate of the real extent of suffering caused by explosive violence.

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.

For more of AOAV’s research on the impact of explosive weapons go to:

Manufactured explosive weapons

IEDs and suicide bombings


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