Today the leaders of the United Nations’ leading humanitarian agencies issued a joint statement calling for urgent action to reduce the suffering in Syria. An urgent plea to stop the bombing of civilians is one of their primary demands, reflecting the terrible role these weapons have played in the conflict.
“One year ago”, says the statement, “as leaders of UN agencies struggling to deal with the growing human impact of the Syrian crisis, we issued an urgent appeal on behalf of millions of people whose lives and futures hang in the balance: Enough, we said, enough! That appeal has gone largely unanswered.”
Sadly, it has.
The Syrian conflict is now more than three years old. In that time well over 100,000 are thought to have died. Countless more have been injured. Millions have been displaced.
This is a conflict that has been driven by explosive weapons. The bombing of cities, towns and villages has defined the dynamics of the crisis. AOAV’s analysis of data gathered from the conflict showed that more than half of civilian deaths in Syria have been caused by explosive weapons.
“Aerial bombardment, rockets, mortars, and other indiscriminate attacks slaughter innocent men, women, and children”, reads the statement. “In Aleppo it is reported that there are now only 40 doctors for a population of 2.5 million people- once there were more than 2,000- and medical supplies are scarce.”
AOAV’s own data on the impact of explosive violence reveals that 89% of all people killed or injured by these weapons have been civilians. As bombs and shells have continued to explode in densely-populated areas it is the civilians of Syria who have suffered most.
In today’s statement, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, as well as the heads of UNICEF, UNHCR, the World Food Programme and the World Health Organization come together to call on all parties to:
- Enable unconditional humanitarian access to all people in need, using all available routes either across lines inside Syria or across its borders.
- Lift the sieges on civilians currently being imposed by all sides, such as those now sealing off parts of Aleppo, the Old City of Homs, Yarmouk, East Ghouta, Moadhamieh, Nabl and Zahra.
- End the indiscriminate bombing and shelling of civilians by the Government and opposition groups and stop all other violations of international humanitarian law.
AOAV welcomes this collective call. The use of explosive weapons in populated areas in Syria is one of the most pressing humanitarian issues in this conflict.
AOAV is a founding member of the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW), which calls for immediate action to prevent human suffering from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. Explosive weapons project blast and fragmentation effects around a point of detonation. The use of such weapons in populated areas causes a predictable and preventable pattern of harm for civilians. AOAV data shows that when explosive weapons, including improvised explosive devices, are used in populated areas, civilians are the overwhelming majority of casualties. As such, AOAV calls on all users of explosive weapons to refrain from using them in populated areas.
To read more about AOAV’s work on explosive weapons, go to:
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