While Europe’s media hones in on the devastating conflict in Ukraine, parallel conflicts involving state and non-state actors go under-reported and forgotten. AOAV’s data shows that, as Ukraine burns, the world is still on fire – and civilians still suffer the brunt of explosive violence everywhere.
Since 24 February 2022, AOAV has recorded 547 incidents of explosive weapons use in 38 countries other than Ukraine. Of the 3,498 casualties reported from those incidents, 64% have been civilians.
In Ukraine, there have been 4, 280 casualties from explosive weapon use since the Russian invasion began (24 Feb – 01 June), across 425 incidents.
50% of the non-Ukrainian recorded incidents happened in populated areas; 86% of civilian casualties occurred when explosive weapons were used in populated areas.
When explosive weapons were used in populated areas, civilians constituted 88% of the total casualties. 75% of global civilian casualties in populated areas since 24 February 2022 were caused by non-state actors.
Improvised explosive devices in populated areas caused 56% of civilian casualties of explosive violence recorded since 24 February 2022. 90% of IED explosions have been attributed to non-state actors.
Data from ongoing explosive violence around the world underscores the need to engage with both state and non-state actors if civilians are to be protected from explosive weapons during armed conflict. AOAV’s work in monitoring data on explosive weapons and casualties is a key driver behind the widespread civil society push to end the use of explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA), but efforts have been largely state and civil society-centric thus far.
On 10 May, the United Nations Security Council released the Report of the Secretary-General on the protection of civilians in armed conflict (S/2022/381). It’s rewarding to see AOAV data used by such bodies as the UN to further the protection of civilians in armed conflict and end the use of EWIPA, but, citing the fact that up to 160 million people live in areas under the direct control of non-State armed groups, the report pushes for strengthened humanitarian engagement with non-state actors.
AOAV has been collecting data on the impacts of explosive weapons globally, as reported in English-language news sources (such as the BBC, AP and Reuters), since 2010. We do not claim we have captured every explosive incident, and AOAV’s casualty figures represent the lowest of estimations in terms of the number of people killed and injured by explosive weapon use. However, our data is comprehensive enough to reveal patterns of harm over time.
Outside of Ukraine, since 24 February 2022, 547 incidents of explosive violence have been recorded by AOAV in 38 countries; of the 3,498 casualties reported from those incidents, 64% (2,226) have been civilians.
The worst affected countries for explosive violence since 24 February 2022 have been, other than Ukraine, Afghanistan (613 civilian casualties reported across 27 recorded incidents); Pakistan (349 civilian casualties across 24 incidents); Syria (269 civilian casualties across 198 incidents); Somalia (200 civilian casualties across 13 incidents); India (160 civilian casualties across 42 incidents); Myanmar (127 civilian casualties across 54 incidents); Yemen (118 civilian casualties across 27 incidents); Nigeria (111 civilian casualties across 16 incidents); and Iraq (72 civilian casualties across 74 incidents).
Of the civilian casualties of explosive violence recorded outside Ukraine since 24 February 2022, 86% (1,905) occurred in populated areas. Civilians constitute 88% of the total casualties (2,154) when explosive weapons have been deployed in populated areas. In unpopulated areas, civilians constitute 24% (321) of recorded casualties (1,344) of explosive weapons.
Improvised Explosive Devices
Since 24 February 2022, 34% (188) of incidents of explosive violence recorded by AOAV outside of Ukraine have been caused by IED; IEDs are the reported cause of 61% (1,367) of civilian casualties recorded globally.
49% (92) of recorded IED explosions since 24 February 2022 were reported in populated areas; they caused 91% (1,249) of reported civilian casualties of IEDs, and 56% of all recorded civilian casualties of explosive violence outside of Ukraine since 24 February 2022.
Non-state actors are the reported perpetrators of 90% of recorded incidents of IED explosions, and of 98% of recorded civilian casualties of IED explosions outside of Ukraine since 24 February 2022.
The five worst-affected countries for civilian casualties of IEDs since 24 February 2022 are Afghanistan (486 civilian casualties); Pakistan (335); Somalia (181); Nigeria (105); and India (90).
29% (159) of recorded incidents of explosive violence outside of Ukraine since 24 February 2022 have been ground-launched weapons; these incidents account for 23% (503) of civilian casualties of explosive violence in that time. In particular, grenades have caused 8% (181) of civilian casualties since 24 February 2022, and shelling 11% (241).
Of the 159 recorded incidents of ground-launched weapons use since 24 February 2022, 60% (110) were reported in populated areas; they caused 23% of reported civilian deaths of explosive violence in populated areas in that time.
Civilians constitute 65% of the total reported casualties of ground-launched explosive violence (777) recorded since 24 February 2022.
55% (82) of incidents of ground-launched explosive weapons use recorded by AOAV since 24 February 2022 have been attributed to state actors; they are reportedly responsible for 44% (219) of civilian casualties of ground-launched explosive weapons. In populated areas, shelling and artillery shells account for 95% (185) of recorded civilian casualties of state ground-launched explosive violence.
Non-state actors are the reported perpetrators of 31% (50) of recorded incidents of ground-launched weapons use since 24 February 2022, and 39% (197) of civilian casualties of ground-launched weapons in that time. In populated areas, grenades account for 78% (145) of recorded civilian casualties of non-state ground-launched explosive violence.
Based on data collected in reliable English-language news sources, since 24 February 2022, AOAV recorded 3,498 casualties of explosive violence outside Ukraine, 2,226 of which were civilians, and 1,272 were armed actors.
AOAV’s casualty figures represent the lowest of estimations in terms of the number of people killed and injured by explosive weapon use. In an effort to quantify the explicit harm caused by specific explosive weapons, AOAV solely records incident-specific casualty figures, as reported in English-language media.
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 effects where there is likely to be a high concentration of civilians.
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