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Explosive Violence in May 2024

In May 2024, Action on Armed Violence recorded 4,212 deaths and injuries from 718 incidents of explosive violence around the world, as reported in English-language media. Civilians accounted for 88% (3,707) of the deaths and injuries recorded.

When explosive weapons were used in populated areas, 95% (3,549) of the casualties were civilians, compared to 34% (158) in other areas.

Manufactured explosive weapons accounted for 98% (3,648) of civilian casualties, while improvised explosive weapons (IEDs) accounted for 2% (59) of these civilian casualties in May 2024. Of the main launch-method types of manufactured explosive weapons, air-launched explosive weapons accounted for 54% (1,989) of civilian casualties, ground-launched weapons were responsible for 28% (1,040) of civilian casualties, and landmines were responsible for 1% (36) of civilian casualties.

At least one death or injury from the use of explosive weapons was recorded in 26 countries and territories in May 2024. The five most affected countries and territories in terms of civilian casualties from the use of explosive weapons were Gaza (1,745 civilian casualties), Ukraine (995), Myanmar (254), Sudan (201), and Russia (126).

GAZA

In May 2024, there were 228 incidents of explosive weapon use recorded in Gaza, 210 of which resulted in 1,745 civilian casualties, of whom 991 were killed and 754 injured. Civilian casualties included at least 103 children, 60 women, and 23 men. Overall, civilians accounted for 96% of all 1,825 casualties recorded in Gaza in May, as there were also 80 reported armed-actor casualties, of whom 51 were killed and 29 injured. 

Due to the consistent and frequent attacks in populated areas using explosive weapons, incident-specific reporting of casualties in Gaza is a slow and laborious process, with many reports coming in weeks after the incident. This, added to the difficulty in disaggregating and tracking rising casualty tolls and attributing deaths and injuries to specific strikes, means that AOAV’s May data for Gaza is, as it stands, likely to be a significant undercounting.

All civilian casualties recorded occurred in populated areas. Specifically, 47% (819) occurred in encampments, 46% (806) in urban residential areas, 3% (47) in schools, 1% (33) in humanitarian infrastructure, 1% (20) in hospitals, and less than 1% in places of worship (16), villages (3) and across multiple urban areas (1).

The regions in which civilian casualties were reported in Gaza in May are South Gaza (731 civilian casualties), North Gaza (633) and Central Gaza (381).

All recorded civilian casualties were caused by state actors’ use of explosive weapons, specifically Israel.

The use of air-launched weapons caused 70% (1,223) of civilian casualties, specifically air strikes (916 civilian casualties), and air-launched missiles (307). Weapons of unclear launch method caused 17% (305) of civilian casualties, specifically missiles (305). Ground-launched explosive weapons caused 10% (181) of civilian casualties, specifically non-specific shelling (130), and artillery shelling (51). The use of weapons with combined launch methods caused 2% (36) of civilian casualties. 

The number of civilian casualties of explosive weapon use in Gaza in May  2024 increased compared to levels recorded in April, when 163 incidents resulted in 932 civilian casualties (605 killed, 327 injured). In March, AOAV recorded 183 incidents and 1,747 civilian casualties (1,164 killed, 583 injured).

UKRAINE

In May 2024, there were 263 recorded incidents of explosive weapon use in Ukraine, 257 of which caused 995 civilian casualties, 180 of whom were killed and 815 injured. Civilian casualties included at least 42 children, 197 women and 201 men. Overall, civilians accounted for 98% of all 1,014 casualties in Ukraine in May, as there were also 19 reported armed-actor casualties, of whom 1 was killed and 18 injured.

98% (934) of civilian casualties occurred in populated areas. Specifically, 34% (343) occurred in urban residential areas, 29% (288) across multiple urban areas, 17% (172) in villages, 7% (73) in public buildings, 4% (38) in places of entertainment, 2% (16) in other populated areas and less than 1% in roads (4).

The oblasts in which civilian casualties were reported in Ukraine in May are Kharkiv (553 civilian casualties), Donetsk (160), Kherson (108) Dnipropetrovsk (49), Sumy (30), Odesa (28), Mykolaiv (16), Luhansk (15), Zaporizhzhia (13), Chernihiv (8), Lviv (5), Vinnytsia (3), Kyiv (3), Kirovohrad (2), and Crimea (2). 

The majority of civilian casualties, 96% (992), were attributed to state actors’ use of explosive weapons, specifically Russia (960 civilian casualties), and Ukraine (31). Actors of unknown name and status caused less than 1% (4) of civilian casualties.

The use of ground-launched weapons caused 44% (437) of civilian casualties, specifically non-specific shelling (269 civilian casualties), ground-launched missiles (87), artillery shelling (39), ground-launched rockets (32), combined ground-launched weapons (5), grenades (2), mortars (2) and tank shelling (1). 

Air-launched weapons caused 35% (352) of civilian casualties, specifically air strikes (314 civilian casualties) and air-launched missiles (38).

Weapons of unclear launch method caused 15% (150) of civilian casualties, specifically missiles (132 civilian casualties) and rockets (18). 

The use of combined explosive weapons caused 5% (50) of civilian casualties. IEDs caused less than 1% (4) of civilian casualties, specifically non-specific IEDs (3 civilian casualties), and car bombs (1). Mines and IEDs were the cause of less than 1% of civilian casualties, specifically non-specific IEDs (4 civilian casualties) and landmines (2)

The number of civilian casualties of explosive weapon use in Ukraine in May 2024 rose compared to levels recorded in April, when 261 incidents caused 893 civilian casualties, 181 of whom were killed and 712 injured. In March, 266 incidents were recorded, which caused 853 civilian casualties (164 killed, 689 injured).

MYANMAR

In May 2024, there were 27 incidents of explosive weapon use recorded in Myanmar, 26 of which resulted in 254 civilian casualties, 79 of whom were killed and 175 injured. Civilian casualties included at least 18 children, 12 women, and 20 men. Overall, civilians accounted for 98% of all 259 casualties recorded in Myanmar in May, as 5 armed actor casualties were also recorded, 4 of whom were killed and 1 injured. 

99% (251) of civilian casualties occurred in populated areas. Specifically, 44% (112) occurred in villages, 17% (43) in places of worship, 13% (32) in schools, 8% (20) in hospitals, 7% (19)  in markets, 4% (11) across multiple urban areas, 3% (8) in encampments, and 2% (6) in urban residential areas.

The states in which civilian casualties were recorded in Myanmar in May are Rakhine (100 civilian casualties), Magway (59), Sagaing (40), Kachin (27), Chin (18), and Tanintharyi (10). 

State actors, specifically the Myanmar military, caused 91% (232) of civilian casualties, whilst non-state actors, specifically the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) caused 6% (16) of civilian casualties and actors of unknown name and status caused 2% (6) of civilian casualties.

Air-launched weapons, specifically air strikes caused 71% (181) of civilian casualties. Ground-launched weapons, specifically artillery shelling caused 22% (57) of civilian casualties. Whereas naval-launched weapons, specifically artillery shelling caused 3% (8) of civilian casualties. Mines, specifically landmines also caused 3% (8) of civilian casualties. 

Civilian casualties of explosive weapon use in Myanmar in May 2024 increased slightly compared to April, when 28 incidents caused 218 reported civilian casualties, 98 of whom were killed and 120 injured. In March, 29 incidents were recorded, which resulted in 247 civilian casualties (85 killed, 162 injured).

SUDAN

In May 2024, there were 24 recorded incidents of explosive weapon use in Sudan, 21 of which caused 201 civilian casualties, 129 of whom were killed and 72 injured. Overall, civilians accounted for 84% of all 238 casualties recorded in Sudan in May, as 37 armed actor casualties were also recorded, 8 of whom were killed and 29 injured. 

85% (171) of civilian casualties occurred in populated areas. Specifically, 34% (68) occurred in urban residential areas, 14% (29) across multiple urban locations, 14% (28) in encampments, 13% (26) in hospitals, 6% (12) in markets, 2% (5) in public transport, and 1% (3) in villages.

The states in which civilian casualties were reported in Sudan in May are North Darfur (161 civilian casualties), Khartoum (36) and West Kordofan (4). 

Simultaneous explosive weapon use by the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces caused 34% (69) of civilian casualties. State actors, specifically the Sudanese Armed Forces caused 29% (59) of civilian casualties. Non-state actors, specifically the Rapid Support Forces, caused 26% (53) of civilian casualties. Actors of unknown name and status caused 10% (20) of civilian casualties.

Ground-launched weapons caused 72% (144), specifically artillery shelling (84 civilian casualties), non-specific shelling (51) and mortars (9). Whereas air-launched weapons, specifically air strikes, caused 28% (57) of civilian casualties. 

Civilian casualties of explosive weapon use in Sudan in May 2024 increased compared to April, when 9 incidents caused 113 reported civilian casualties (55 killed, 58 injured). In March, 10 incidents of explosive weapon use were recorded, which resulted in 120 reported civilian casualties (46 killed, 74 injured).

RUSSIA

In May 2024, there were 14 recorded incidents of explosive weapon use in Russia, which resulted in 126 civilian casualties, 33 of whom were killed and 93 injured. Civilian casualties included at least 4 children, 5 women, and 8 men. Overall, civilians accounted for 100% of casualties in Russia in May, as no armed-actor casualties were recorded.

97% (122) of civilian casualties occurred in populated areas. Specifically, 44% (56) of civilian casualties occurred in urban residential areas, 33% (41) in roads, 17% (22) in villages, and 2% (3) across multiple urban areas. 

The provinces in which civilian casualties were reported in Russia in May are Belgorod (121 civilian casualties), Kursk (3), and Krasnodar (2). 

All recorded civilian casualties were caused by state actors’ use of explosive weapons, specifically Ukraine.

Ground-launched weapons caused 54% (68) of civilian casualties, specifically ground-launched missiles (43 civilian casualties), non-specific shelling (13), and ground-launched rockets (12). Air-launched weapons, specifically air-strikes caused 44% (56) of civilian casualties. The use of weapons with combined launch methods caused 2% (2) of civilian casualties. 

Civilian casualties of explosive weapon use in Russia in May 2024 increased significantly compared to levels recorded in April, when 5 incidents caused 14 civilian casualties, 5 of whom were killed and 9 injured. In March, 17 incidents were recorded, which caused 72 civilian casualties (17 killed, 55 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.