The use of explosive weapons in populated areas is one of the biggest protection concerns facing humanitarians, the United Nations say in a new report.
This week the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is meeting in New York to debate efforts to strengthen the coordination of humanitarian assistance in countries such as Syria and its neighbours, South Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan and Mali. Places where civilians stand in dire need of support. Places where the use of explosive weapons has contributed to pressing humanitarian challenges.
The report features original research carried out by Action on Armed Violence (AOAV).
Since 2011 AOAV has been monitoring the impacts of explosive weapons around the world. These are weapons that affect an area with blast, heat and fragmentation, and include both manufactured ordnance like mortars and rockets, as well as improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
AOAV’s data, recorded from the reporting of English-language news sources, is intended as an indicator of the patterns of harm and use in recent years. It is a pattern that the UN says is of increasing concern.
“During 2013, almost 38,000 people were reported killed or injured by such weapons, 82 per cent of them civilians. When explosive weapons were used in populated areas, 93 per cent of the casualties were reportedly civilians.”
“In addition to death and injury, civilians are often displaced for long periods and in precarious conditions”, the report continues. “Housing, health facilities and essential infrastructure are often damaged or destroyed. Education is also disrupted and livelihoods are devastated. The use of explosive weapons in populated areas has a dramatic impact on post-conflict reconstruction. Their remnants are a threat to people, sometimes for generations.”
The UN calls attention to the growing efforts of humanitarian actors such as UNICEF and UNOCHA, as well as the International Commission of the Red Cross, in tackling the threat these weapons pose to civilian populations.
AOAV is at the forefront of such protection efforts. As a founding member of the International Network of Explosive Weapons (INEW), AOAV works with civil society and member states of the UN to promote recognition of the humanitarian impact of explosive weapons with wide-area effects in populated areas. AOAV welcomes the continuing support and leadership of the United Nations in ensuring that the victims of explosive weapons are not forgotten, and that efforts to strengthen humanitarian assistance recognise the fierce threat that these weapons present to their work.
Did you find this story interesting? Please support our work and donate.
Did you find this story interesting? Please support AOAV's work and donate.