Explosive weapons in populated areas
A total of
33,307 people were reported killed or injured
by explosive weapons during 2015
When explosive weapons were used in populated areas
From Afghanistan to Iraq, Libya to Palestine, Syria to Ukraine and elsewhere, the use of explosive weapons in populated areas is a major cause of civilian deaths, injuries and displacement.
The use of explosive weapons in populated areas also has a severe long-term humanitarian impact:
Housing and essential infrastructure, such as water and electricity supply systems, are damaged or destroyed.
People often have no choice but to leave their homes, often for long periods and in precarious conditions.
Damage and destruction of water and sanitation systems can increase the risk and spread of disease.
Explosive weapons are the leading cause of damage to health-care facilities during conflict and armed violence.
Schools are damaged or destroyed, interrupting or halting access to education. In some places, families do not send their children to school because of the fear of explosive-weapon attacks.
Livelihoods are devastated as commercial property and means of production (e.g. factories and fishing boats) are damaged or destroyed.
Explosive weapons leave explosive remnants of war. Until they are removed, they can kill and injure civilians long after hostilities have ended.
The use of explosive weapons in populated areas has a dramatic effect on post-conflict reconstruction requirements and costs.
The United Nations Secretary-General has called on all parties to conflict—national military and security forces, and armed groups—to avoid using explosive weapons with wide-area effects in populated areas.
There has been important progress in this area. Some military forces, such as the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan and the African Union Mission in Somalia, have instituted policy and practice that:
Place limits on the use of certain explosive weapons in certain contexts; and
- Seek to minimize the impact of military operations on civilians in ways that go beyond the minimum requirements of international humanitarian law.
OCHA has convened three international expert consultations on the issue and is compiling examples of good practice, such as those in Afghanistan and Somalia. OCHA will share these with States, national armed forces and other relevant actors to help promote and contribute to a change in practice.
OCHA is working closely with the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW), an NGO partnership calling for immediate action to prevent human suffering from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
A number of States are also working to develop a political commitment that will recognize the humanitarian impact of explosive weapons in populated areas and embody commitments to reduce that impact in the future. This will possibly include the development of policy standards to ensure more effective implementation of international humanitarian law.
|Fact Sheet: Protecting civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas|
|International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW)|
|Collateral - The human cost of explosive violence in Ukraine (OCHA-PAX)||Shattered lives - Civilians suffer from the use of explosive weapons in Libya (OCHA-PAX)||State of Crisis: Explosive weapons in Yemen (OCHA-AOAV)|