The United Nations has released a report this week by the Secretary-General on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. The report, which includes AOAV’s data from our report ‘The Burden of Harm: Monitoring explosive violence in 2017’, reiterates the concern for the civilians whose lives are shattered by armed conflict and stresses the need for a greater effort globally to protect civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
On the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, referring to AOAV’s data, the report reads:
‘Of particular concern is the widespread use in urban areas of air-dropped bombs, artillery, mortars, rockets, improvised explosive devices and other explosive weapons, and the consequences for civilians. It is reported that in 2017, out of a total of 42,972 people killed or injured by explosive weapons, 31,904, or three out of every four victims, were civilians — a 38 per cent increase compared with 2016. When explosive weapons were used in populated areas, 92 per cent of the casualties were civilians. The Syrian Arab Republic, Iraq and Afghanistan saw the highest numbers of civilian casualties, with air-launched explosive weapons the leading cause, followed by improvised explosive devices and ground-launched weapons.’
The report once again calls on state parties to avoid the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas. It also draws attention to the reverberating impacts of explosive weapons, citing the destruction of hospitals, schools and essential infrastructure.
Within the report the Secretary-General calls on Member States to develop policy frameworks which should include a clear presumption against the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas.
The report also welcomed the Austrian-led process for a the political declaration on the issue.
AOAV works with civil society and member states of the UN to promote recognition of the humanitarian impact of explosive weapons with wide-area effects in populated areas. AOAV welcomes the continuing support and leadership of the United Nations in ensuring that preventing the harm from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas is a priority for international community.
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