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Explosive violence in November 2020

In November 2020, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) recorded 1,785 deaths and injuries from 229 incidents of explosive violence around the world, as reported in English-language media. Civilians accounted for 50% (890) of the deaths and injuries recorded.

When explosive violence was used in populated areas, 74% of all casualties were civilians, compared to 16% in other areas.

Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) accounted for 53% of civilian casualties in November, with manufactured weapons accounting for 47%.

Of the main launch methods, IEDs were responsible for 53% of civilian casualties, ground-launched explosives were responsible for 36%, landmines for 5%, and airstrikes for 4%. The remaining 2% of civilian casualties were caused by unclear launch methods.

At least one death or injury from explosive violence was recorded in 17 countries and territories in November. The five worst impacted countries in regard to civilian casualties were Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, and Iraq.

Afghanistan was the country worst impacted by explosive weapons last month, with 471 civilian casualties attributed to explosive violence – 323 deaths and 148 injuries. Of the 471 civilian casualties, 71% were caused by IEDs. The three regions worst affected by IEDs in Afghanistan in November – where over 65% of IED-attributed casualties occurred – were Kandahar (29%), Kabul (19%), and Bamiyan (17%).

AOAV recorded 147 civilian casualties in Syria, the second most affected county in November. 49% (72) of all civilian casualties in the country were caused by IEDs, followed by ground-launched munitions, accounting for 42% (62). Of the 62 casualties caused by ground-launched munitions, 71% occurred in Idlib – the city at the centre of a Human Rights Watch report published in October condemning the relentless shelling of Idlib’s civilian infrastructure by the Syria-Russia alliance as possible war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Unlike Afghanistan and Syria, a majority (68%) of civilian casualties in Yemen were caused by ground-launched explosive munitions, primarily in Taiz and Hudaydah. This follows an ongoing trend, largely caused by Houthi rebel activity in Taiz, and Saudi airstrikes across the country.

Also in November, Pakistan saw a rise in explosive violence in Kashmir, primarily caused by artillery exchanges between Indian and Pakistani soldiers. And in Iraq, a flare of explosive violence in the city of Baghdad led to 8 civilian deaths and 13 civilian injuries, accounting for almost half of civilian casualties in the country.

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.