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Explosive Violence in April 2023

In April 2023, Action on Armed Violence recorded 2,632 deaths and injuries from 447 incidents of explosive violence around the world, as reported in English-language media. Civilians accounted for 64% (1,684) of the deaths and injuries recorded.

When explosive weapons were used in populated areas, 79% (1,552) of the casualties were civilians, compared to 20% (132) in other areas.

Manufactured explosive weapons accounted for 83% (1,412) of civilian casualties, while improvised explosive weapons (IEDs) accounted for 14% (233) of these civilian casualties in April 2023. Of the main launch-method types of manufactured explosive weapons, ground-launched explosive weapons accounted for 56% (950) of civilian casualties, air-launched weapons were responsible for 21% (362) of civilian casualties, and landmines were responsible for 3% (57) of civilian casualties.

At least one death or injury from the use of explosive weapons was recorded in 24 countries and territories in April 2023. The five most affected countries and territories in terms of civilian casualties from the use of explosive weapons were Ukraine (586 civilian casualties), Myanmar (309), Somalia (234), Sudan (210), and Syria (82).

UKRAINE

In April 2023, there were 204 incidents of explosive weapon use recorded in Ukraine, 193 of which resulted in 586 civilian casualties, of whom 160 were killed and 426 injured. Civilian casualties included at least 20 children, 51 women, and 76 men. Overall, civilians accounted for 67% of all 872 casualties recorded in Ukraine in April, as there were also 286 armed-actor casualties, of whom 146 were killed and 140 injured.

The majority of civilian casualties, 93% (545), occurred in populated areas. Specifically, 47% (278) occurred in urban residential areas, 23% (132) across multiple urban locations, 12% (68) in villages, 4% (25) in markets, 2% (14) in town centres, 2% (11) in places of worship, and less than 1% in transport-related infrastructure (3), commercial premises (3), roads (3), other locations (3), entertainment venues (2), schools (2), hospitals (2), and agricultural land (1) respectively.

The regions in which civilian casualties were reported in Ukraine were Donetsk (271 civilian casualties), Kherson (132), Kharkiv (48), Mykolaiv (33), Cherkasy (32), Zaporizhzhia (23), Dnipropetrovsk (22), Sumy (10), Chernihiv (8), Luhansk (4), Kyiv (3).

The vast majority of civilian casualties, 99% (583), were caused by state actors’ use of explosive weapons. Specifically, Russian armed forces reportedly caused 87% (511) of civilian casualties, Ukraine’s armed forces caused 11% (62), and unknown state actors caused 2% (10) respectively. Perpetrators of unknown status and name reportedly caused <1% (2) of civilian casualties, and non-state actors caused <1% (1). Ukrainian resistance groups caused 3 civilian casualties, and unknown non-state actors caused 4. 

The use of ground-launched explosive weapons was the cause of 74% (432) of civilian casualties, specifically non-specific shelling (230 civilian casualties), ground-launched missiles (58), combined ground-launched weapons (46), ground-launched rockets (42), artillery shells (41), mortars (12), and tank shells (3). Air-launched weapons caused 11% (66) of civilian casualties, specifically air-launched missiles (40 civilian casualties), air strikes (20), air-dropped bombs (4), and air-dropped grenades (2). Combined explosive weapons caused 7% (39) of civilian casualties. Naval-launched weapons, specifically missiles, caused 4% (24) of civilian casualties. Mines caused 2% (13) of civilian casualties, specifically anti-personnel mines (6 civilian casualties), landmines (6), and anti-vehicle mines (1). Weapons of unclear launch method, specifically missiles, caused 1% (8) of civilian casualties. Improvised explosive devices caused <1% (4) of civilian casualties, specifically non-specific IEDs (3 civilian casualties) and car bombs (1).

The number of incidents and civilian casualties of explosive weapon use in Ukraine in April 2023 decreased compared to levels recorded in March, in which 214 incidents caused 602 civilian casualties, of which 152 killed and 450 injured. In February, 179 incidents caused 456 civilian casualties (116 killed and 340 injured). 

MYANMAR

In April 2023, there were 59 recorded incidents of explosive weapon use in Myanmar, 18 of which caused 309 civilian casualties, 181 of whom were killed and 128 injured. Civilian casualties included at least 49 children, 47 women, and 132 men. Overall, civilians accounted for 49% of the total 631 casualties of explosive weapon use, as 322 armed-actor casualties were also recorded, 180 of whom were killed and 142 injured.

98% (303) of  civilian casualties occurred in populated areas. Specifically, 83% (255) occurred in villages, 5% (15) in public buildings and at public gatherings respectively, 4% (11) across multiple urban areas, 2% (5) in hospitals, 1% (3) in other locations, and less than 1% in encampments (1), roads (1), and urban residential areas (1) respectively.

The states in which civilian casualties were reported in Myanmar were Sagaing (205 civilian casualties), Shan (54), Chin (30), Magwe (15), and Karen (5). 

The majority of civilian casualties, 94% (290), were caused by state actors’ use of explosive weapons, specifically the Myanmar military junta. Actors of unknown name and status caused 6% (18) of civilian casualties. Non-state actors, specifically the Siyin Civil Defense Militia, caused <1% (1) of civilian casualties.

Air-launched weapons caused the vast majority of civilian casualties, 88% (272). Specifically, air-strikes caused 267 civilian casualties and air-dropped bombs caused 5. Ground-launched weapons 6% (18) of civilian casualties, specifically artillery shells (17 civilian casualties), and non-specific shelling (1). Improvised explosive devices caused 5% (16) of civilian casualties, specifically non-specific IED (15 civilian casualties), and roadside bombs (1). Mines, specifically landmines, caused 1% (3) of civilian harm.

Civilian casualties of explosive weapon use in Myanmar in April 2023 continued to rise compared to March, when 113 incidents caused 140 reported civilian casualties (44 killed, 96 injured). In February, 100 incidents of explosive weapon use were recorded, which resulted in 103 reported civilian casualties (34 killed, 69 injured).

SOMALIA

In April 2023, there were eight recorded incidents of explosive weapon use in Somalia, seven of which caused 234 civilian casualties, 15 of whom were killed and 219 injured. Civilian casualties included at least one child. Overall, civilians accounted for 73% of the total 321 casualties of explosive weapon use, as 87 armed actors were also killed.

99% (231) of civilian casualties occurred in populated areas. Specifically, 88% (207) of civilian casualties occurred in urban residential areas, 6% (15) across multiple urban areas, 3% (8) in armed bases, 1% (3) on roads, and <1% (1) in commercial premises. 

The regions in which civilian casualties were reported in Somalia were Somaliland (217 civilian casualties), Banaadir (8), Galguduud (8), and Puntland (1). 

The majority of civilian casualties, 99.6% (233), were caused by non-state actors’ use of explosive weapons, specifically Somaliland forces (217), and Al Shabaab (16). Actors of unknown name and status caused one civilian casualty.

The use of ground-launched weapons was the cause of 95% (223) of civilian casualties, specifically shelling (217 civilian casualties), mortars (5), and grenades (1). Improvised explosive devices caused 5% (11) of civilian casualties, specifically car bombs (8 civilian casualties), and roadside bombs (3).

Civilian casualties of explosive weapon use in Somalia in April 2023 decreased compared to March, when 13 incidents caused 364 reported civilian casualties (61 killed, 303 injured). In February, 26 incidents of explosive weapon use were recorded, and they caused 237 civilian casualties (101 killed and 136 injured). 

SUDAN

In April 2023, there were 20 incidents of explosive weapon use recorded in Sudan, which resulted in 210 civilian casualties, of whom 49 were killed and 161 injured. Civilian casualties include at least five children, six women, and six men. Overall, civilians accounted for 99% of the total 212 casualties, as two armed actors were also killed.

99% (209) of civilian casualties occurred in populated areas. Specifically, 65% (136) occurred across multiple urban areas, 13% (27) in urban residential areas, 10% (21) in hospitals, 9% (19) in markets, 1% (3) in transport related infrastructure and encampments respectively, and <1% (1) in schools. 

The regions in which civilian casualties were reported in Sudan were North Darfur (158 civilian casualties), Khartoum (49), and South Darfur (3).

The majority of civilian casualties, 75% (158), were caused by actors of unknown name and status. Combined state and non-state actors, specifically the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces, caused 20% (42) of recorded civilian casualties. State actors, specifically Sudan, caused 4% (8) of recorded civilian casualties, and non-state actors, specifically the Rapid Support Forces, <1% (2) of civilian casualties.

Ground-launched weapons caused 90% (189) of civilian casualties, specifically non-specific shelling (185 civilian casualties), rocket-propelled grenades (3), and mortars (1). Air-launched weapons caused 6% (12) of civilian casualties, specifically air strikes (11 civilian casualties), and air-dropped bombs (1). Weapons of unclear launch method caused 4% (9) of civilian harm, specifically missiles (6 civilian casualties), and rockets (3). 

There were no incidents of explosive weapon use which caused civilian harm recorded in Sudan in March or February 2023.

SYRIA

In April 2023, there were 55 incidents of explosive weapon use recorded in Syria, 21 of which resulted in 82 civilian casualties, 31 of whom were killed and 51 injured. Civilian casualties included at least 24 children, two women, and five men. Overall, civilians accounted for 45% of all 182 casualties in Syria in April, as 100 armed actors casualties were also recorded, 48 of whom were killed and 52 injured.

46% (38) of civilian casualties occurred in populated areas. Specifically, 40% (33) occurred in urban residential areas, and 6% (5) in villages. 30% (25) occurred in other locations, 22% (18) on roads, and <1% (1) in agricultural lands.

The regions in which civilian casualties were recorded in Syria in April are Daraa (25 civilian casualties), Deir Ezzor (20), Aleppo (12), Idlb (10), Homs (9), Hasakah (5), and Damascus (1).

48% (39) of civilian casualties were caused by non-state actors’ use of explosive weapons, specifically unknown non-state actors (28 civilian casualties), ISIS (7), individuals (2), and the Al-Sho’aitat tribe (2). State actors caused 28% (23) of civilian casualties, specifically Syria (18 civilian casualties), Israel (3), and Turkey (2). Actors of unknown name and status caused 24% (20) of civilian harm

Ground-launched weapons caused 35% (29) of civilian casualties, specifically non-specific shelling (10 civilian casualties), artillery shells (10), grenades (6), and mortars (3). Improvised explosive devices caused 33% (27) of civilian casualties, specifically roadside bombs (18 civilian casualties), non-specific IEDs (8), and car bombs 91). Mines caused 25% (21) of civilian harm, specifically landmines (15 civilian casualties), and anti-vehicle mines (6). Air-launched weapons, specifically air strikes, caused 6% (5) of civilian casualties.

Civilian casualties of explosive weapon use in Syria in April 2023 decreased compared to March, when 53 incidents caused 95 reported civilian casualties, 36 of whom were killed and 59 injured. In February, 43 incidents were recorded, which resulted in 86 civilian casualties (32 killed, 54 injured).



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.