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Patterns of Harm: Five years of AOAV explosive violence data (2011 – 2015)

Pattern of HarmFor over five years, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) has monitored English language media coverage of explosive violence around the world. In our latest report, Patterns of Harm, AOAV presents data from over 188,325 recorded deaths and injuries – a result of 12,566 incidents of explosive weapons use between 2011 and 2015.

The most compelling pattern of harm highlighted in the data was that, year in and year out, when explosive weapons were used in populated areas, nine times out of ten those killed or wounded were civilians. AOAV strongly calls States to politically commit to refraining from using explosive weapons in populated areas given this predictable pattern of harm.

Our key findings show that:

Of the 188,325 deaths and injuries recorded from 2011 to 2015, 145,565 (77%) were civilians. The remainder (42,760) were armed actors.

When explosive weapons were used in populated areas, 91% of deaths and injuries were reported as civilians. This compares to 33% in areas not reported as populated.

Every year since the monitor began AOAV has seen an increase in both total deaths and injuries and civilian deaths and injuries.

In 2015, 43,795 deaths and injuries were recorded, 33,307 of whom were civilians; this was, respectively, 45% and 54% more than recorded in 2011.

At least one death or injury was recorded in 110 countries and territories over the five years.

Each year incidents were recorded in an average of 61 different countries or territories.

Over the five years Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen saw the highest levels of civilian harm.

Of these, four – Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and Afghanistan – saw more than 10,000 civilian deaths and injuries.

Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) consistently caused the most civilian harm of any weapon category. Over the five-year period, AOAV recorded 105,071 deaths and injuries as a result of IED incidents, of which 86,395 (82%) were civilians. This is 59% of all civilian deaths and injuries recorded.

Whilst representing only 19% of reported IED incidents, suicide bombings appear throughout the data as particular cause for concern. Suicide bombings caused 39,717 deaths and injuries, of which 79% (31,447) were civilians. This represents a disproportionate 38% of all deaths and injuries from IED incidents. Of the ten worst explosive incidents over the five year period, half were suicide bombings.

AOAV recorded 35,976 deaths and injuries caused by air-launched weaponry, of which 21,280 (59%) were civilians. When air-launched weapons were used in populated areas 86% of those killed and injured were civilians, compared to 19% in areas not reported as populated. Both 2014 and 2015 saw a worrisome spike in casualties of air-launched weaponry, with 9,200 civilian deaths and injuries recorded in 2015 – a rise of 4.5 times that recorded in 2013.

Ground-launched weaponry caused 39,347 deaths and injuries, of which 32,903 (84%) were civilians. When used in populated areas, 92% of those killed and injured were civilians, compared to 38% in areas not reported as populated.

For more details please read our report here.

Any queries can be sent to AOAV’s Executive Director, Iain Overton at ioverton@aoav.org.uk.


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