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Wide-Area Impact – Investigating the wide-area effect of explosive weapons

Wide Area Impact Report

Of all the findings in Action on Armed Violence’s global monitor of explosive weapon harm, one thing stands out.  That when explosive weapons with wide area effects are used in populated areas, the vast majority of those killed or injured will be civilians.

This hard truth is seen across time and space – from Syria and Ukraine to Nigeria and Yemen. Between 2011 and 2014, AOAV recorded a total of 144,545 deaths and injuries from the use of explosive weapons like aircraft bombs, rockets and mortars. Of these, 78% were reported to be civilians.

To help policy-makers, journalists and others interested in the humanitarian harm of explosive weapons, understand this pattern of harm more fully, AOAV has published a report – Wide-Area Impact. It looks in detail at three distinctive weapon explosive weapon types; the impact of air-dropped bombs in Yemen, mortar attacks on the Syrian-Jordanian border and multiple-rocket attacks in Ukraine. We use such case studies to explore how the technical characteristics that give a weapon wide-area impacts translate into severe and long-lasting civilian harm on the ground.

Yemen – Paveway air-dropped bombs
In Yemen, AOAV looked at weapons that have a wide-impact area impact because of the large destructive radius of the individual munition used. In this case we look at the Paveway air-dropped bomb series. Our report covers:
– An overview of air-dropped bombs by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen;
– A case study of an ariel strike on a Yemeni family home;
– An examination of certain air-dropped bombs, with a focus on the Mark 80 series with Paveway attachments (with technical details);
– An infographic and video of the guided Mark 80 series in action, with additional eye-witness testimony from Iona Craig – AOAV’s researcher on the ground.

Syrian/Jordanian border – mortar fire
On the Syrian-Jordanian border, we examined weapons that have a wide impact area because of the inherent lack of accuracy of the delivery system (such as unguided indirect fire weapons, including artillery and mortars). In this case we examined mortars. Our report covers:
– An overview of mortar fire on the Syrian/Jordanian border;
– A case study of a lethal mortar strike in Ramtha, on the Syrian border;
– An examination of certain explosive weapons with a lack of accuracy, with a focus on mortars (M-1943/M43);
– A video of the mortar attacks, along with an infographic, with an additional gallery of the type of mortars used on the Syrian/Jordanian border;
– AOAV also produced a map of where 15 recorded strikes landed, along with 15 case studies of each strike laid out in detail.

Ukraine – multi-launch rocket systems
In Ukraine, AOAV examined weapons that have a wide impact area because the weapon system itself is designed to deliver multiple munitions over a wide area. In this case, we look at the Grad multiple rocket series. Our report covers:
– The use of multi-launch rocket systems in the Ukrainian conflict;
– A case study of Grad rockets killing dozens of civilians in an attack on the Eastern European town of Mariupol in January, 2015;
– An analysis of the Grad rocket system, with an accompanying  video and infographic;
– Details of a particular strike and a map of where one salvo of 40 of the Grad rockets landed in Mariupol.

Recommendations from AOAV’s Wide Area Impact Report
This report provides case-study led evidence of the terrible devastation just one single explosive weapon with wide area impacts can have – let alone a whole barrage of such weapons. Such incontrovertible evidence underpins AOAV’s recommendation for States and all users of explosive weapons to:
– Acknowledge that the use of explosive weapons in populated areas tends to cause severe harm to individuals and communities and furthers suffering by damaging vital infrastructure;
– Strive to avoid such harm and suffering in any situation, review and strengthen national policies and practices on use of explosive weapons and gather and make available relevant data;
– Work for full realisation of the rights of victims and survivors;
– Develop stronger international standards, including certain prohibitions and restrictions on the on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

The full report can be read here.

For information, please contact Iain Overton –