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Explosive violence in January 2020

In January 2020, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) recorded 2,243 deaths and injuries from 261 incidents of explosive violence around the world, as reported in English-language media. Civilians accounted for 63% (1,406) of the deaths and injuries recorded.

When explosive violence was used in populated areas, 96% of all casualties were civilians, compared to 11% in other areas.

Manufactured weapons accounted for 81% of civilian casualties in January 2020, while improvised explosive devices (IEDs) accounted for 19%. Of the main launch method types, airstrikes were responsible for 40% of civilian casualties, ground-launched explosives for 36%, and IEDs for 19%. The remaining 5% of civilian casualties were caused by landmines and attacks where multiples launch methods were used.

At least one death or injury from explosive violence was recorded in 21 countries and territories last month. The five worst impacted countries were Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia in terms of civilian casualties.

Syria was the country worst impacted by explosive weapons in January, with 725 civilian casualties from such violence. 80% of these casualties were due to explosive weapon use by state actors. Airstrikes accounted for 69% of civilian casualties, ground-launched explosives accounted for 19%, and IEDs for 7%. A further 5% were caused by landmines and explosive weapons with multiples launch methods.

Idlib was the worst impacted area in Syria last month. At least 54% of civilian casualties from the use of explosive weapons in Syria, occurred in Idlib province in January; a further 32% occurred in Aleppo province.

Iran was the second-worst impacted country from explosive weapons, with 176 civilian casualties caused by the missile strike on a passenger plane over Tehran. The strike came as tensions between Iran and the US escalated. The strike came just hours after Iran had fired missiles at a US base in Iraq.

Afghanistan saw at least 111 civilian casualties from explosive violence last month as monthly casualties continued to decrease. Airstrikes caused the most civilian casualties in Afghanistan last month, responsible for at least 48 civilian deaths and injuries. A further 38 were caused by ground-launched explosives, while 28 were caused by IEDs.

Pakistan saw most (52) civilian casualties caused by IEDs, with 10 from ground-launched incidents. Similarly, most Somalia’s civilian casualties were due to IEDs (43) and ground-launched explosives (11); with one civilian casualty recorded from US airstrikes.

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.