Manufactured explosive weaponsExplosive violence in SyriaAOAV's Key Research Papers

Syria’s shockwaves: the consequences of explosive violence

In November 2013 AOAV was in Lebanon to meet with refugees who had survived and escaped the devastating explosive violence in Syria. Syria’s Shockwaves tells the stories of some of these people, every one of whom had witnessed someone die or be injured by a bomb, shell or rocket.

Explosive weapons like artillery, mortars and air-dropped bombs have been a major driver of civilian suffering in Syria since fighting began in March 2011. Half of civilian deaths in the conflict have been caused by explosive weapons. AOAV’s own data shows that nine out of ten of all casualties of explosive weapons in Syria were civilians.

But as well as the direct casualties many more people have suffered physically, financially and psychologically. Lebanon is home to a million Syrian refugees, many of whom are now living with the consequences of explosive violence. And despite the efforts of an overwhelmed host community, their needs are largely not being met.

The full report can be read here.


  • Explosive weapons cause life-changing and often unreported injuries that require costly treatment, like traumatic amputations. Common injuries included fragmentation wounds to the limbs and back.
  • Every civilian injured by explosive weapons that AOAV met in Lebanon still needed treatment. Some of these injuries were more than two years old.
  • None of the refugees AOAV met were receiving psychological support.
  • A third of injured refugees were not receiving treatment. In Lebanon an expensive and overloaded medical system is seen by many refugees as a barrier to access.
  • Half of the people AOAV spoke with in Lebanon lost their homes to bombing and shelling in Syria.
  • A quarter had been displaced more than once inside Syria before coming to Lebanon.
  • Over three-quarters were unable to work in Lebanon, despite having a legal right to do so.

“None of the incidents in which these injuries were sustained in Syria would have made the global news,” said AOAV CEO Steve Smith. “But behind each number, each explosion, is a family who have lost a loved one, an injury that will require years of painful recovery, a lifetime’s worth of possessions demolished. Explosive weapons have a particular capacity to cause long-term suffering that all too often goes unreported.” 

AOAV Syria's Shockwaves


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