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Explosive Violence Monitor: 2023

This report presents the findings of global explosive violence patterns in 2023. It constitutes the thirteenth consecutive year of Action on Armed Violence’s (AOAV) Explosive Violence Monitoring Project (EVMP), which records the casualties from explosive weapons use worldwide as reported in English-language media.

In 2023, AOAV recorded 47,476 deaths and injuries as a result of the use of explosive weapons around the world, the highest levels recorded since 2010 (when our monitoring began). With 34,791 civilians among these casualties – 73% of all those reported killed or wounded by explosive weapons globally – 2023 was the most injurious year for civilians since the EVMP began. 46% (15,845) of these civilians were reported killed.

Last year, global incidents of explosive weapons use surged by 70%, alongside a 67% spike in civilian casualties and a staggering 130% rise in civilian fatalities compared to 2022.

As has been repeatedly documented by AOAV for over a decade, the threat explosive weapons pose to civilians is exacerbated when these weapons are used in populated areas. In 2023, 90% of all those reported killed and injured by explosive weapons in towns and cities were civilians. The vast majority of all global civilian casualties from explosive violence – some 96% – occurred in such populated areas.

Notably, 2023 saw the emergence of new conflicts, in particular the civil war in Sudan and Israel’s military operation in Gaza, the latter being largely responsible for the exceptional increase in harm from explosive weapons worldwide. The conflict in Gaza has also sparked increased explosive violence across the Middle East, as tensions rise throughout the region. Flare-ups of violence between Armenia and Azerbaijan, alongside ongoing international and non-international conflicts in Myanmar, Ukraine, Syria, Somalia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, also contributed to the high level of incidents and harm. After the relative global downturn in violence in the pandemic years, it appears the world has become a more violence place.

The full report is available for download here:  Explosive Violence Monitor 2023

Key findings

  • In 2023, AOAV recorded 47,476 deaths and injuries by explosive weapons across 7,368 incidents around the world, as reported by English language media.
  • 34,791 of the recorded casualties were civilians – 73%. This marks the highest levels of civilian harm recorded since the Explosive Violence Monitoring Project began in 2010.
  • Recorded civilian fatalities rose by 130% last year, predominantly due to Israel’s military operation in Gaza. 61% of global civilian fatalities were recorded in Gaza between October 7th and December 31st. Overall, Gaza accounts for 39% of global civilian casualties in 2023.
  • AOAV recorded 33,404 civilians killed and injured in populated areas. This represented 96% of globally reported civilian deaths and injuries.
  • When explosive weapons were used in populated areas, 90% of those killed and injured were civilians, compared to 13% in other areas.
  • The average number of civilians killed per incident rose from 1.6 in 2022 to 2.2 in 2023 – a 38% increase.
  • At least 2,210 women were reported among the civilian casualties last year. This marks a 192% increase compared to 756 in 2022, and the highest level of recorded harm to women by explosive weapons in AOAV’s records.
  • 2023 saw the highest levels of recorded harm to children from explosive weapons since 2017. At least 2,571 children were reported among the civilian casualties, a 124% increase compared to 1,146 in 2022.
  • Gaza, Ukraine, Sudan, Myanmar, and Syria saw the highest levels of civilian harm in 2023
  • Manufactured explosive weapons accounted for 91% of civilian casualties in 2023, while improvised explosive devices accounted for 8%.
  • Air-launched manufactured explosive weapons were responsible for 50% of global civilian casualties, while ground-launched explosive weapons accounted for 34%.
  • The average number of civilians harmed per airstrike rose from 7.4 to 9.9, a 34% increase, while the average number of civilians killed per aerial attack rose by 63%, from 3.8 to 6.2.
  • Incidents were recorded in 63 countries and territories, three more than in 2022.

A video of the launch of this monitor can be seen here: