Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) records incidents of explosive violence as they occur around the world. In the first month of 2017, there were at least 3,565 casualties of explosive violence (people killed and injured). Civilians made up 68% of all the people who were recorded killed or injured around the world by explosive weapons in January.
The average monthly civilian casualty toll in 2016 was 2,674. This means the first month fell just short of this average – with 2,442 civilian deaths and injuries.
The five most impacted countries/territories in January were: Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Yemen, and Afghanistan.
For the first month since March 2016, Syria dropped from the position of the country worst impacted by explosive violence, according to civilian deaths and injuries. In January 2017, AOAV recorded 879 deaths and injuries in Syria caused by such weaponry, of which 606 (69%) were civilians. This is significantly lower than the average civilian deaths and injuries recorded per month in 2016 in Syria – 1,109. However, it is largely similar to the levels recorded in January of last year, where 684 civilian casualties were recorded.
This January, 2017, Iraq claimed the position as the country worst impacted by explosive violence, with 661 civilian deaths and injuries from explosive violence. This is similar to the levels seen over the last few months of 2016, though significantly higher than the level seen in January of last year where 263 civilian deaths and injuries were recorded. Since September 2016, the number of civilian deaths and injuries from explosive violence have been consistently high. In October 2016, Iraq and international forces began their offensive to retake Mosul.
In January, 52% of the deaths and injuries recorded in Iraq occurred in Baghdad, whilst a further 24% took place in Mosul. Many of the attacks launched by ISIS in Baghdad are generally considered as responsive to loss of ground in other areas, such as Mosul.
Nigeria saw a significant rise in civilian deaths and injuries in January. 87% of the civilian casualties were caused in just one event, which saw the Nigerian military conduct airstrikes on what they reportedly thought was a militant camp, but was in fact a camp for the displaced in Nigeria. The five other incidents were suicide attacks, most likely launched by Boko Haram militants.
Last year, Yemen saw an average of 226 civilian deaths and injuries a month, therefore the violence seen in January is largely in-keeping with this trend. One of the most significant attacks in Yemen in January, saw a US airstrike kill women and children during the first airstrike by US forces in Yemen under the Trump administration.
92% of the civilian deaths and injuries occurred in populated areas in January. AOAV strongly condemns the use of violence against civilians and the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. All actors should refrain from using such weapons where there is likely to be a high concentration of civilians.
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