ALERT – 4 April: International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action | April 4, 2017
2015 saw a record increase in the number of casualties of mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW), up 75% from 2014. The vast majority of people killed and injured in these attacks were civilians. Co-founder of an international campaign to stop the bombing of civilians, Handicap International is once again calling for an immediate […]
2015 saw a record increase in the number of casualties of mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW), up 75% from 2014. The vast majority of people killed and injured in these attacks were civilians.
Co-founder of an international campaign to stop the bombing of civilians, Handicap International is once again calling for an immediate end to this practice and for the international community to condemn it in the strongest terms.
A sharp rise in the number of new casualties of mines in 2015
Published last November, the Landmine Monitor recorded a sharp rise in the number of new casualties of mines and explosive remnants of war in 2015. At least 6,461 people were killed or injured by these weapons in 2015. The Landmine Monitor also reported 1,331 casualties of improvised mines (21% of casualties reported in 2015), the highest number since the publication of the first annual report in 2000. The actual number is likely to be higher.
This depressing finding is directly linked to the intensive use in recent conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Ukraine and elsewhere of explosive weapons in populated areas, including banned weapons such as anti-personnel mines and cluster bombs. 90% of people killed and injured by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas are civilians.
The use of explosive weapons in populated areas contaminates large areas with explosive remnants of war
Bombing and shelling in Iraq, Syria, Ukraine and other conflict zones leave behind explosive remnants of war (ERW) that contaminate large swathes of land long after fighting or a conflict is over. In neighbourhoods or villages affected by bombing, explosive remnants of war (ERW) threaten civilian lives and make it impossible for society or the economy to return to normal.
The Syrian conflict has been particularly marked by this heavy and repeated use of explosive weapons. According to a report by the International NGO Safety Organisation (INSO), there were 8,656 attacks using explosive weapons in Syria between 26 September and 28 December 2016, accounting for 72% of reported attacks – an average of 94 bombing or shelling incidents a day.
“Explosive remnants of war make it dangerous for people to return home once an attack or conflict has ended,” explains Thomas Hugonnier, head of Handicap International’s operations in Iraq. “In Syria, but also in Iraq, this contamination has reached an unprecedented level, which will require years of mine clearance. It also makes risk education sessions vital to teach people to respond in the right way when they come across an explosive remnant and to avoid the risk of accidents.”
According to a Mine action rapid assessment published in November 2016 by the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) on the level of contamination in Syria, more than 3.6 million Syrians live in areas contaminated by explosive remnants of war and improvised devices; almost 1.5 million people live in areas where incidents related to explosive devices have been reported; unexploded devices have been reported in 20% of the territory.
Stop bombing civilians!
On 15 March 2017, Handicap International launched an international campaign to collect one million signatures to say “stop bombing civilians”. The organisation’s goal is to collect one million signatures and to present them to political decision-makers in September 2018. As a member of the INEW (International Network on Explosive Weapons) coalition, the organisation is calling on States to end the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
Handicap International is calling on States and non-State armed groups to immediately end the use of anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions, their sale and transfer, to strongly condemn their use under any circumstances and, when they are party to a conflict, to apply pressure on their allies not to use these weapons.
You can sign the petition here: http://stop-bombing-civilians.org/