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Explosive violence in August 2017

In August 2017, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) recorded 3,173 deaths and injuries from explosive violence around the world, as reported in English-language media. Civilians accounted for 70% (2,228) of the deaths and injuries recorded.

At least one death or injury from explosive violence was recorded in 26 countries and territories last month. The five worst impacted countries were Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, and Iraq according to civilian casualties.

Iraq dropped to fifth, amongst the worst impacted locations last month. Most reported casualties in Iraq during August were armed actors and security personnel, whilst the country continued to see surprisingly low levels of civilian harm. AOAV recorded 131 civilian casualties in Iraq in August.

However, given the security situation in Iraq, it is likely that many civilian casualties go unrecorded.

88% of all civilian casualties in Iraq last month were caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Syria continued to retain its position as the worst impacted state from explosive violence globally. AOAV recorded 1,427 casualties from explosive weapons there last month. Of these, 81% were civilians. Whilst Iraq saw most civilian casualties from IEDs, Syria saw by far the most from airstrikes. 85% of civilian casualties from explosive weapons in Syria were caused by air-launched explosives in August. This means that, yet again, state actors continued to be responsible for most civilian casualties from explosive violence in the country.

In total, 54% of all civilian casualties from explosive violence last month were caused by airstrikes, whilst 29% were caused by IEDs.

Civilian casualties from explosive violence in Afghanistan more than doubled last month, compared to July. This is largely due to a few highly lethal IED attacks and airstrikes on populated areas. At least three US airstrikes were reported to have killed civilians in Afghanistan last month, as well as another by Afghanistan. Though, it should be noted that, four suicide attacks alone – two by ISIS and two by the Taliban – were responsible for 65% of civilian casualties.

Yemen’s position as third-most-impacted is almost entirely due to the continued violence perpetrated by the Saudi-led coalition. One airstrike by the coalition on August 23rd left at least 35 killed when the strike hit a hotel in Arhab.

Overall, globally, when explosive violence was used in populated areas, 90% of all casualties were civilians, compared to 12% in other areas.

AOAV condemns the use of violence against civilians and the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. All actors should stop using explosive weapons with wide-area affects where there is likely to be a high concentration of civilians.

For more on the increasing harm from airstrikes, please see here.