In November 2021, Action on Armed Violence recorded 1,018 deaths and injuries from 137 incidents of explosive violence around the world, as reported in English-language media. Civilians accounted for 43% (435) of the deaths and injuries recorded.
When explosive violence was used in populated areas, 86% of all casualties were civilians, compared to 11% in other areas.
Improvised explosive weapons (IEDs) accounted for 52% (225) of these civilian casualties in November 2021, while manufactured explosive weapons accounted for 45% (197). Of the main launch method types of manufactured explosive weapons, ground-launched explosive weapons were responsible for 31% of civilian casualties (133), and air-launched explosive weapons for 15% (64). The remaining 3% of civilian casualties were caused by landmines (13).
At least one death or injury from the use of explosive weapons was recorded in 21 countries and territories in November 2021. The five most impacted countries were Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Uganda – in terms of civilian casualties.
In November 2021, there were 38 incidents of explosive weapon use recorded in Syria. 18 of these incidents caused civilian casualties, amounting to 103 civilians killed or injured. Of these 103 civilian casualties, 67 were injured and 36 killed. 11 casualties were reportedly women and 24 were children. Civilians accounted for 53% of the total 194 casualties recorded in November, as there were 91 armed-actor casualties – 41 of whom were injured and 50 killed. When casualties occurred in populated areas, 82% of those killed or injured were civilians.
Of the civilian casualties in Syria in November, 90% occured in populated areas, while 10% took place in areas not reported as populated. 43 civilian casualties took place in locations identified as ‘Multiple (urban)’, which refers to a location in which the detonation of an explosive weapon affects multiple types of spaces within an urban environment. 23 civilian casualties occurred in villages, 16 in urban residential areas, 9 on commercial premises, 7 on roads, and 2 on agricultural land. In the case of 3 civilian casualties, there was no information on the specific location-type. Civilian casualties were recorded in five governorates across Syria: Idlib (43), Aleppo (33), Homs (12), Daraa (12), and Hasakah (3).
The use of ground-launched weapons caused 50% of the total civilian casualties. Specifically, these weapons include: multiple types of ground launched weapons (16 civilian casualties), mortars (12), artillery shelling (12), missiles (10), and grenades (1). Air-launched explosive weapons were the recorded cause of 35 civilian casualties, specifically airstrikes (29 civilian casualties), air-dropped bombs (3), and air-launched missiles (3). IEDs were the reported cause of 10 civilian casualties, specifically car bombs (9 civilian casualties) and non-specific IEDs (1). Landmines were the reported cause of 7 civilian casualties.
State actors were reportedly responsible for 65% of civilian casualties, primarily Russia (29) and Syria (28), while non-State actors were responsible for 10 civilian casualties. The perpetrator status of 26 civilian casualties was recorded as ‘unknown’.
The number of civilian casualties in Syria in November has seen a 49% decrease relative to figures recorded in October 2021. The number of civilian casualties in the country is among the lowest figures recorded this year, 2021, second only to April and May, in which 94 civilian casualties were recorded in both months respectively. The number of armed-actor casualties in November (91) has also seen a substantial decline of 37% when compared to October 2021 (144), and is at a year-round low, second only to July, in which 75 armed-actor casualties were recorded. Still, Idlib remains the most dangerous province in terms of the number of recorded civilian deaths and injuries from explosive weapons, and ground-launched weapons were again the cause of the highest proportion of civilian casualties in comparison to October 2021.
In November 2021, there were 14 incidents of explosive weapon use recorded in Yemen, 12 of which caused a total of 76 civilian casualties. Of these 76 civilian casualties, 60 were injured and 16 killed. 14 of the casualties were reportedly children. Civilians accounted for 20% of the total casualties recorded in Yemen in November, as 298 armed-actors were reportedly killed, and 1 injured.
When explosive weapon use was recorded in populated areas, 100% of those killed and injured were civilians (48), compared to 9% when casualties from explosive weapon use were recorded in non-populated areas (28). 39% (30) of civilian casualties took place in locations identified as ‘Multiple (urban)’, which refers to a location in which the detonation of an explosive weapon affects multiple types of spaces within an urban environment. 34% (26) of civilian casualties occurred in an unidentified location-type, 13% (10) at a school, 8% (6) in an urban residential area, and 5% (4) on a road.
71% of civilian casualties (54) were caused by ground launched weapons, specifically artillery shelling, while 26% (20) were caused by air-launched weapons, specifically airstrikes. Two civilian casualties were caused by an IED, specifically a car bomb.
The governorates in which civilian casualties occurred were Saada (56), Dhale (10), Hudaydah (6), Aden (2), and Shabwa (2).
State actors were the recorded perpetrator of 83% (63) of civilian casualties, primarily Saudi Arabia (49) and the Saudi-led coalition (12), and the USA (2). The perpetrator status of 11 civilian casualties was recorded as ‘unknown’, and non-State actors were the recorded perpetrators in the case of 2 civilian casualties.
The number of civilian casualties has decreased substantially, by 62%, from October to November. Armed-actor casualties have also gone down, by 29%, since last month. The number of recorded incidents has maintained, at 13 in October to 14 in November, illustrating a decreased level of civilian harm per incident.
In November 2021, there were 10 incidents of explosive weapon use recorded in Afghanistan, nine of which caused a total of 58 civilian casualties (43 injured and 15 killed). The total number of casualties, including armed-actors, was 79. 54 of the 58 civilian casualties occurred in populated areas.
IEDs and roadside bombs were the cause of 54 civilian casualties, 43 of whom where injured and 11 killed. Two civilian casualties were caused by landmines, and 2 by ground-launched weapons, specifically a grenade.
The provinces in which civilians were killed or injured by explosive weapons were Kabul (34), Nangarhar (20) and Logar (4). The location-types include urban residential areas (19 civilian casualties), a place of worship (18), a hospital (15), a village (2), a road (2), and 2 civilian casualties were recorded with no location-type specified.
Non-state actors were recorded as the perpetrator in the case of 54 civilian casualties, 29 of which could be attributed to explosive weapon use by the Islamic State in Afghanistan. There was one recorded suicide attack in Afghanistan in November, which was the highest casusalty incident this month. On 2 November, 12 people were killed, including four civilians (three women and one child) and 16 were wounded, including 11 civilians, in an Islamic State suicide attack on a military hospital in Kabul’s 10th district. Both suicide and non-suicide attacks by Islamic State members in Afghanistan has risen since the Taliban took control of the country. Last month, October, 296 people were killed in Islamic State suicide bombings.
Though there were two more incidents of explosive weapon use recorded in Afghanistan in November than in October, the number of civilian casualties has decreased significantly, from 338 in October to 58 in November.
In November 2021, there were five incidents of explosive weapon use recorded in Somalia, four of which caused a total of 51 civilian casualties, 32 of whom were injured and 19 killed. Civilians accounted for the vast majority, 89%, of the total 57 casualties recorded in Somalia in November. All civilian casualties occurred in populated areas and were the result of the use of IEDs.
The location-types in which civilian casualties occurred were a school (25), a market (18), an urban residential area (6), and multiple urban spaces (2). Three incidents that collectively killed or injured 33 civilians took place in the capital city Mogadishu, Banaadir. All three incidents were suicide attacks claimed by Al-Shabaab. 18 civilian casualties were recorded in one incident that took place in Bardale, Bay.
Non-state actors were the recorded perpetrator of all civilian casualties. with Al-Shabaab specifically named as the reported perpetrator in the case of 33 civilian casualties. The group responsible for the remaining 18 civilian casualties was unknown.
The highest casualty incident took place on 25 November, when an al-Shabaab suicide attack targeted Mocaasir school in Mogadishu, killing 8 people and injuring 17 others, including 13 children.
Civilian casualties in November were over eight-times higher than in October, as suicide attacks by Al-Shabaab in populated areas rose. Explosive weapon use was also concentrated in densely populated areas of the capital city Mogadishu in November, compared to more rural regions in October.
In November 2021, there was one recorded incident of explosive weapon use in Uganda, which caused a total of 36 civilian casualties. On 16 November, twin suicide bombings by an Islamic State affiliate group, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), were detonated in the capital city Kampala, killing 3 civilians and injuring 33 others. Three suicide bombers also died in the attack, and the Islamic State publicly claimed responsibility.
Civilian casualties from explosive weapon use in Uganda have more than tripled from October (11) to November (36). This can be attributed to a sudden increase in Islamic State attacks targeting civilians in populated areas, concentrated in Kampala, which began in October 2021.
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.
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