In June 2017, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) recorded 2,464 deaths and injuries from explosive violence around the world, as reported in English-language media. Civilians accounted for 75% (1,842) of the deaths and injuries recorded.
This represents a 30% decrease in the number of civilians killed or injured compared to May 2017, when there were 2,649 civilian deaths and injuries.
However, at least one death or injury from explosive violence was recorded in 27 countries last month, three more than in May. The five worst impacted countries were Syria, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia, according to civilian casualties.
Despite, Syria and Iraq retaining similar positions amongst the five worst impacted countries both saw a surprising decrease in the levels of civilian harm.
In Syria, AOAV recorded 600 civilian casualties in June. Whilst high, this is a 27% decrease from the month before, and far from the levels recorded in the latter months of last year, where well over 1,000 civilian casualties were recorded each month.
66% of all civilian casualties were caused by air-launched explosives, leaving state actors as responsible for most civilian casualties from explosive violence in Syria last month. The majority of those were recorded as perpetrated by US-led coalition airstrikes, which caused at least 223 civilians casualties – 37% of all civilian casualties from explosive violence.
Most civilian casualties occurred in Raqqa and Deir Ezzor, where ISIS maintain strongholds.
Iraq saw 244 civilian casualties from explosive violence recorded in English-language media. A decrease of 40% compared to last month. The average level of civilian casualties per month last year was 530.
In June, over 50% of all Iraq’s civilian casualties occurred in Mosul. However, it is likely that far more casualties occurred than were reported, due to the nature of the conflict and the dangers of reporting from Mosul.
Pakistan’s position as the second-most impacted country was caused predominantly by IEDs. Just one incident, when twin blasts hit a crowded market in Shiite-dominated Parachinar, was responsible for 82% of all civilian casualties. The attack had killed 67 by the following morning, whilst 261 were injured and 62 of those in a critical condition. The attack in Parachinar was claimed by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a predominantly Sunni extremist group.
In total, 55% of all casualties of explosive violence were caused by IEDs in June – 29% were caused by suicide attacks alone.
When explosive violence was used in populated areas, 94% of all casualties were civilians, compared to 19% 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. Further, given the increasing prevalence of IED use, greater efforts should be made by the international community to combat the civilian harm caused by such weapons.
To see what is being done globally to combat IED harm, please see AOAV’s report “Addressing the threat posed by IEDs: National, regional and global initiatives”, here.
Did you find this story interesting? Please support AOAV's work and donate.