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Explosive Violence in January 2023

In January 2023, Action on Armed Violence recorded 3,211 deaths and injuries from 524 incidents of explosive violence around the world, as reported in English-language media. Civilians accounted for 50% (1,614) of the deaths and injuries recorded.

When explosive weapons were used in populated areas, 78% (1,431) of the casualties were civilians, compared to 13% (183) in other areas.

Manufactured explosive weapons accounted for 67% (1,085) of civilian casualties, while improvised explosive weapons (IEDs) accounted for 31% (506) of these civilian casualties in January 2023. Of the main launch method types of manufactured explosive weapons, ground-launched explosive weapons accounted for 50% (810) of civilian casualties, air-launched weapons were responsible for 15% (243) of civilian casualties, and landmines were responsible for 2% (32) of civilian casualties.

At least one death or injury from the use of explosive weapons was recorded in 18 countries and territories in January 2023. The five most affected countries and territories in terms of civilian casualties from the use of explosive weapons were Ukraine, Somalia, Myanmar, Yemen, and Afghanistan.

UKRAINE

In January 2023, there were 235 incidents of explosive weapon use recorded in Ukraine, 229 of which resulted in 783 civilian casualties, of whom 221 were killed and 562 injured. Civilian casualties included at least 36 children and 41 women. Overall, civilians accounted for 84% of all 936 casualties recorded in January, as there were 153 armed-actor casualties, of whom 143 were killed and 10 injured.

The majority of civilian casualties, 92% (717), occurred in populated areas. Specifically, 51% (400) occurred in urban residential areas, 22% (176) across multiple urban locations, 6% (49) in hospitals, 6% (46) in villages, 2% (13) in other locations, 1% (10) in commercial premises and markets respectively, 1% (5) in public buildings and on roads respectively, and less than 1% in entertainment venues (2) and town centres (1). 

The regions in which civilian casualties were reported in Ukraine were Donetsk (264 civilian casualties), Kherson (162), Dnipropetrovsk (130), Zaporizhzhia (75), Kharkiv (66), Luhansk (55), Mykolaiv (20), Sumy (7), and Kyiv (4).

The vast majority of civilian casualties, 99% (778), were caused by state actors’ use of explosive weapons. Specifically, Russian armed forces reportedly caused 88% (686) of civilian casualties and Ukraine’s armed forces 12% (92). Perpetrators of unknown status and name reportedly caused 1% (4) of civilian casualties, and unknown non-state actors caused <1% (1) of civilian casualties.

The use of ground-launched explosive weapons were the cause of 79% (617) of civilian casualties, specifically non-specific shelling (359 civilian casualties), artillery shelling (72), ground-launched rockets (68), ground-launched missiles (67), combined ground-launched weapons (49), and mortars (2).  Air-launched weapons caused 16% (127) of civilian casualties, specifically air-launched missiles (126 civilian casualties) and air strikes (1). Mines, specifically landmines, caused 2% (16) of civilian casualties. Multiple types of explosive weapons caused 1% (9) of civilian casualties, and IEDs, specifically non-specific IEDs, caused <1% (1) of civilian casualties. 2% (13) of civilian casualties were caused by missiles (12 civilian casualties) and rockets (1) of unclear launch method.

The number of incidents of explosive weapon use in Ukraine in January 2023 increased from December 2022, in which 194 incidents were recorded. However, marginally more civilian casualties, 794, were recorded in December, of which 195 killed and 599 injured). In November, 223 incidents  caused 722 civilian casualties (171 killed and 551 injured). 

SOMALIA

In January 2023, there were 26 recorded incidents of explosive weapon use in Somalia, seven of which caused 178 civilian casualties, 81 of whom were killed and 97 injured. Civilian casualties included at least one woman and five children. Overall, civilians accounted for 54% of the total 330 casualties of explosive weapon use, as 152 armed-actor casualties were also recorded, 133 of whom were killed and 19 injured.

All civilian casualties occurred in populated areas. Specifically, 69% (122) happened across multiple urban locations, 13% (24) in public buildings, 13% (23) in armed bases, 4% (7) in villages, and 1% (2) in commercial premises.

The regions in which the most civilian casualties were reported in Somalia were Hiran (82 civilian casualties), Hirshabelle (65), Banaadir (29), and Bari (2). 

The majority of civilian casualties, 96% (171), were caused by non-state actors’ use of explosive weapons, specifically Al Shabaab (169 civilian casualties), and unknown non-state actors (2). State actors, specifically the USA, caused 4% (7) of civilian casualties.

IEDs caused the vast majority of civilian casualties, 93% (166). Specifically, car bombs caused 140 civilian casualties, combined IEDs caused 24, and non-specific IEDs caused 2. Air-launched weapons caused 4% (7) of civilian casualties, specifically air strikes. Ground-launched weapons, specifically mortars, caused 3% (5) of civilian casualties.

Civilian casualties of explosive weapon use in Somalia in January 2023 rose considerably compared to December 2022, when eight incidents caused 16 reported civilian casualties (3 killed, 13 injured). In November, seven incidents of explosive weapon use were recorded, which resulted in 33 reported civilian casualties (12 killed, 21 injured).

MYANMAR

In January 2023, there were 100 recorded incidents of explosive weapon use in Myanmar, 35 of which caused 170 civilian casualties, 39 of whom were killed and 131 injured. Civilian casualties included at least 24 women and 21 children. Overall, civilians accounted for 31% of the total 550 casualties of explosive weapon use, as 380 armed-actor casualties were also recorded, 232 of whom were killed and 148 injured.

99% (168) of civilian casualties occurred in populated areas. Specifically, 59% (101) happened in villages, 18% (31) in other locations, 8% (13) in encampments, 5% (9) at public gatherings, 5% (8) in places of worship, 1% (2) in urban residential areas and markets respectively, and 1% (1) on roads and in hospitals respectively. 

The states in which the most civilian casualties were reported in Myanmar were Sagaing (52 civilian casualties), Karen (36), Kachin (32), Kayah (17), Mon (13), Chin (8), Rakhine (6), Shan (3), Magwe (2), and Bago (1).

The majority of civilian casualties, 90% (153), were caused by state actors’ use of explosive weapons, specifically Myanmar’s military junta. Non-state actors caused 6% (10) of civilian casualties, specifically unknown non-state actors (9 civilian casualties) and People’s Defense Forces groups (1). Actors of unknown name and status caused 4% (7) of civilian casualties. 

Air-launched weapons, specifically air strikes, were the cause of 53% (90) of civilian casualties. Ground-launched weapons caused 32% (55) of civilian casualties, specifically artillery shelling (34 civilian casualties), non-specific shelling (15), and mortars (6). Mines, specifically landmines, caused 9% (16) of civilian casualties, and IEDs, specifically IEDs dropped by commercial drones, caused 5% (9). 

Civilian casualties of explosive weapon use in Myanmar in January 2023 rose considerably compared to December 2022, when 45 incidents caused 52 reported civilian casualties (six killed, 46 injured). In November, 112 incidents of explosive weapon use were recorded, and they caused 158 civilian casualties (37 killed and 121 injured).

YEMEN

In January 2023, there were 40 incidents of explosive weapon use recorded in Yemen, 33 of which resulted in 112 civilian casualties, of whom 13 were killed and 99 injured. Civilian casualties include at least one woman and one child. Overall, civilians accounted for 75% of the total 149 casualties, as there were also 37 recorded armed-actor casualties, 21 of whom were killed and 16 injured.

72% (81) of civilian casualties occurred in populated areas. Specifically, 36% (40) of civilian casualties happened in urban residential areas, 31% (35) across multiple urban locations, and 5% (6) in villages. 

The regions in which civilian casualties were reported in Yemen were Saada (101 civilian casualties), Abyan (6), Hudaydah (4), and Marib (1).

The majority of civilian casualties, 96% (107), were caused by state actors’ use of explosive weapons, specifically Saudi Arabia. Non-state actors, specifically Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), caused 4% (4) of civilian casualties, and actors of unknown name and status caused 1% (1).

The majority, 84% (94), of civilian casualties were caused by ground-launched weapons, specifically artillery shelling (47), non-specific shelling (37), combined ground-launched weapons (8), and mortars (2). Air-launched weapons, specifically air strikes, caused 12% (13) of civilian casualties, and IEDs, specifically non-specific IEDs, caused 4% (4). Missiles of unclear launch method caused 1% (1) of civilian casualties.  

Incidents of explosive weapon use in Yemen in January 2023 increased since December 2022, when 15 incidents were recorded, resulting in 77 civilian casualties (20 killed, 57 injured). In November, 10 incidents were recorded, causing 30 civilian casualties (7 killed, 23 injured).

AFGHANISTAN

In January 2023, there were three incidents of explosive weapon use recorded in Afghanistan, which resulted in 95 civilian casualties, 37 of whom were killed and 58 injured. Overall, civilians accounted for 98% of the total 97 casualties, as two armed actors were also killed.

All civilian casualties occurred in populated areas. Specifically, 66% (63) happened in public buildings, and 34% (32) in transport-related infrastructure.

The regions where civilian casualties of explosive weapon use were recorded in Afghanistan were Kabul (92 civilian casualties), and Takhar (3). 

All civilian casualties were reportedly caused by non-state actors’ use of explosive weapons, specifically ISIS-Khorasan Province (92 civilian casualties), and unknown non-state actors (3).

All civilian casualties were caused by non-specific IEDs.

Civilian casualties of explosive weapon use in Afghanistan in January 2023 saw a considerable increase compared to December 2022, when seven incidents caused 58 reported civilian casualties (11 killed, 47 injured). In November, six incidents were recorded, which resulted in 58 civilian casualties (17 killed, 41 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.