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Explosive Violence in August 2023

In August 2023, Action on Armed Violence recorded 2,877 deaths and injuries from 576 incidents of explosive violence around the world, as reported in English-language media. Civilians accounted for 63% (1,801) of the deaths and injuries recorded.

When explosive weapons were used in populated areas, 83% (1,715) of the casualties were civilians, compared to 11% (86) in other areas.

Manufactured explosive weapons accounted for 95% (1,705) of civilian casualties, while improvised explosive weapons (IEDs) accounted for 5% (96) of these civilian casualties in August 2023. Of the main launch-method types of manufactured explosive weapons, ground-launched explosive weapons accounted for 70% (1,257) of civilian casualties, air-launched weapons were responsible for 15% (264) of civilian casualties, and landmines were responsible for 3% (31) of civilian casualties.

At least one death or injury from the use of explosive weapons was recorded in 20 countries and territories in August 2023. The five most affected countries and territories in terms of civilian casualties from the use of explosive weapons were Ukraine (915 civilian casualties), Sudan (266), Myanmar (134), Syria (125), and Ethiopia (120).

UKRAINE

In August 2023, there were 271 incidents of explosive weapon use recorded in Ukraine, 262 of which resulted in 915 civilian casualties, of whom 134 were killed and 781 injured. Civilian casualties included at least 24 children, 104 women, and 134 men. Overall, civilians accounted for 88% of all 1,040 casualties recorded in Ukraine in August, as there were also 125 reported armed-actor casualties, of whom 30 were killed and 95 injured.

The majority of civilian casualties, 98% (895), occurred in populated areas. Specifically, 32% (296) occurred in town centres, 25% (23) in urban residential areas, 17% (159) in villages, 14% (131) across multiple urban areas, 2% in hotels (20), schools (16), and hospitals (14) respectively, 1% in other populated locations (11), humanitarian infrastructure (10), and commercial premises respectively (5), and <1% (3) in entertainment premises.

The regions in which civilian casualties were reported in Ukraine were Chernihiv (226 civilian casualties), Donetsk (218), Kherson (188), Kharkiv (84), Zaporizhzhia (83), Dnipropetrovsk (41), Lviv (19), Sumy (17), Poltava (9), Khmelnytskyi (9), Volyn (6), Mykolaiv (5), Kyiv (5), Vinnytsia (3), Ivano-Frankivsk (1), and Luhansk (1). 

All civilian casualties were caused by state actors’ use of explosive weapons. Specifically, Russian armed forces reportedly caused 95% (872) of civilian casualties, Ukraine’s armed forces 4% (33), and unknown state actors 1% (10). 

The use of ground-launched explosive weapons was the cause of 77% (702) of civilian casualties in Ukraine in August, specifically ground-launched missiles (309 civilian casualties), non-specific shelling (296), artillery shelling (74), combined ground-launched weapons (7), ground-launched rockets (6), mortars (5), and tank shells (5). Air-launched weapons caused 9% (83) of civilian casualties, specifically air strikes (64 civilian casualties), air-launched missiles (11), air-dropped bombs (5), and combined air-launched weapons (3). Weapons of unclear launch method caused 8% (64) of civilian casualties, in particular missiles (62 civilian casualties), and rockets (2). Combined explosive weapons caused 6% (53) of civilian casualties. Mines resulted in 1% (13) of civilian casualties, specifically landmines (8 civilian casualties), anti-personnel mines (4), and anti-vehicle mines (1). 

The number of incidents and civilian casualties of explosive weapon use in Ukraine in August 2023 decreased slightly compared to levels recorded in July, in which 282 incidents caused 935 civilian casualties, of whom 149 were killed and 786 injured. In June, 260 incidents caused 809 civilian casualties (162 killed and 647 injured). 

SUDAN

In August 2023, there were 20 recorded incidents of explosive weapon use in Sudan, which caused 266 civilian casualties, 148 of whom were killed and 118 injured. Civilian casualties included at least 10 children, two women and five men. There were no armed actor casualties recorded in Sudan in August.

All civilian casualties occurred in populated areas. Specifically, 95% (253) occurred in urban residential areas, 2% (6) at public gatherings, 2% (4) on roads, and 1% (3) in encampments. 

The regions in which civilian casualties were reported in Sudan were South Darfur (176 civilian casualties), Khartoum (59), North Kordofan (27), and South Kordofan (4). 

The majority of civilian casualties, 67% (178), were attributed to actors of unknown name and status. 23% (60) of civilian casualties were caused by combined state and non-state actors, specifically the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). State actors, specifically the SAF, caused 6% (17) of civilian casualties, and non-state actors, specifically the RSF, caused 4% (11) of civilian casualties.

The use of ground-launched weapons was the cause of 88% (234) of civilian casualties, specifically artillery shelling (82 civilian casualties), non-specific shelling (72), ground-launched missiles (47), combined ground-launched weapons (27), and mortars (6). Combined explosive weapons caused 9% (25) of civilian casualties. Mines, specifically landmines, were the cause of 2% (4) of civilian casualties, and air-launched weapons, specifically air strikes, caused 1% (3) of civilian casualties.

The number of civilian casualties of explosive weapon use in Sudan in August 2023 increased compared to levels recorded in July, when 14 incidents caused 208 civilian casualties, 165 of whom were killed and 43 injured. In June, 10 incidents were recorded, which caused 369 civilian casualties (103 killed, 266 injured).

MYANMAR

In August 2023, there were 83 recorded incidents of explosive weapon use in Myanmar, 39 of which caused 134 civilian casualties, 28 of whom were killed and 106 injured. Civilian casualties included at least 28 children, 33 women, and 19 men. Overall, civilians accounted for 28% of the total 473 casualties of explosive weapon use, as 339 armed-actor casualties were also recorded, 193 of whom were killed and 146 injured.

93% (124) of civilian casualties occurred in populated areas. Specifically, 59% (79) occurred in villages, 13% (18) in places of worship, 5% (7) in public buildings, 4% (6) in hospitals, 3% (4) on roads, 2% in schools (3) and encampments (3) respectively, and 1% in markets (2), urban residential areas (1), and police stations (1) respectively.

The states in which civilian casualties were reported in Myanmar were Sagaing (41 civilian casualties), Bago (40), Shan (16), Mandalay (14), Chin (10), Kayah (9), and Karen (4). 

The majority of civilian casualties, 80% (107), were caused by state actors’ use of explosive weapons, specifically the Myanmar military junta. Non-state actors caused 16% (21) of civilian casualties, specifically the unknown non-state actors (10 civilian casualties), the TNLA (7), the People’s Defence Forces (3), and the Galon Column (1). Actors of unknown name and status caused 4% (6) of civilian casualties.

Ground-launched weapons caused 55% (74) of civilian casualties, specifically artillery shelling (38 civilian casualties), non-specific shelling (26), grenades (7), and mortar shelling (3). The use of air-launched weapons resulted in 32% (43) of civilian casualties, specifically air strikes (40 civilian casualties) and air-dropped bombs (3). IEDs, specifically non-specific IEDs, caused 9% (12) of civilian casualties. Mines, specifically landmines, caused 6% (8) of civilian casualties.

Civilian casualties of explosive weapon use in Myanmar in August 2023 decreased slightly compared to July, when 72 incidents caused 141 reported civilian casualties (51 killed, 90 injured). In June, 75 incidents of explosive weapon use were recorded, which resulted in 139 reported civilian casualties (59 killed, 80 injured).

SYRIA

In August 2023, there were 80 incidents of explosive weapon use recorded in Syria, 37 of which resulted in 125 civilian casualties, 31 of whom were killed and 94 injured. Civilian casualties included at least 25 children, 16 women, and 21 men. Overall, civilians accounted for 32% of all 395 casualties in Syria in August, as 270 armed actors casualties were also recorded, 166 of whom were killed and 104 injured.

86% (108) of civilian casualties occurred in populated areas. Specifically, 29% (36) of civilian casualties occurred in urban residential areas, 26% (32) in villages, 16% (20) in encampments, 7% (9) on agricultural land, 4% (4) in commercial premises, 3% (4) across multiple urban areas, and 2% (2) on roads.

The regions in which civilian casualties were recorded in Syria in August are Idlib (46 civilian casualties), Aleppo (30), Hama (21), Hasakah (13), Raqqa (6), Rif Dimashq (6), Latakia (1), Daraa (1), and Deir Ezzor (1). 

65% (81) of civilian casualties were caused by state actors’ use of explosive weapons, specifically Syria (43 civilian casualties), Russia (21), Turkey (15), and unknown state actors (2). Non-state actors caused 31% (39) of civilian casualties, specifically unknown non-state actors (19), the Syrian Democratic Forces (9), Hayyat Tahrir al Sham (6), Al Fath Al Mubin (2), Islamic State (2), and the Syrian National Army (1). Actors of unknown name and status killed and injured 4% (5) of civilians in Syria in August. 

The use of ground-launched weapons caused 70% (87) of civilian casualties, specifically artillery shelling (34 civilian casualties), grenades (16), non-specific shelling (13), combined ground-launched weapons (9), ground-launched missiles (8), mortars (3), ground-launched rockets (2), and rocket-propelled grenades (2). Air-launched weapons, specifically air strikes, caused 19% (21) of civilian casualties. Weapons of unclear launch method caused 9% (11) of civilian casualties, specifically rockets (10 civilian casualties), and missiles (1). IEDs, specifically non-specific IEDs, caused 2% (3) of civilian casualties.

Civilian casualties of explosive weapon use in Syria in August 2023 decreased slightly compared to July, when 70 incidents caused 127 reported civilian casualties, 28 of whom were killed and 99 injured. In June, 65 incidents were recorded, which resulted in 152 civilian casualties (21 killed, 120 injured).

ETHIOPIA

In August 2023, there were two incidents of explosive weapon use recorded in Ethiopia, which resulted in 120 civilian casualties, 30 of whom were killed and 90 injured. Civilian casualties included at least one child. There were no armed actor casualties recorded in Ethiopia in August.

All civilian casualties occurred in populated areas. Specifically, 80% (96) occurred at public gatherings, and 20% (24) in entertainment venues.

The regions in which civilian casualties were recorded in Ethiopia in August are Amhara (96 civilian casualties), and Tigray (24).

80% (96) of civilian casualties were caused by actors of unknown name and status, while 20% (20) were caused by non-state actors, specifically unknown non-state actors.

The use of air-launched weapons, specifically air strikes, caused 80% (96) of civilian casualties,, while ground-launched weapons, in particular a grenade, caused 20% (24) of civilian casualties.

Civilian casualties of explosive weapon use in Ethiopia in August 2023 increased drastically compared to July and June, when no incidents of explosive weapons use were recorded 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 effects where there is likely to be a high concentration of civilians.