ALERT – New Pax-Airwars Report “Seeing Through the Rubble. The civilian impact of the use of explosive weapons in the fight against ISIS” | October 27, 2020

Buildings destroyed in western Mosul

On 26th of October, a new report was launched by Airwars and Pax – our partners in the International Network on Explosive Weapons. The report, “Seeing Through the Rubble. The civilian impact of the use of explosive weapons in the fight against ISIS”, shows once again the devastating impact of the use of explosive weapons […]

On 26th of October, a new report was launched by Airwars and Pax – our partners in the International Network on Explosive Weapons.

The report, “Seeing Through the Rubble. The civilian impact of the use of explosive weapons in the fight against ISIS”, shows once again the devastating impact of the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects when used in populated areas. It examines the reverberating effects and civilian harm caused in recent international military campaigns in Mosul, Raqqa and Hawijah.

Cities devastated by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas

Relying on publicly accessible data, the report assessed that  the death toll included at least 9000 civilians during the 2016-2017 military campaign to combat ISIS in Mosul. With more than 700.000 inhabitants, displaced and 5.000 buildings in the Old City severely damaged. In Raqqa, the US-led coalition employed airstrikes that led to the death of at least 1.600 civilians and destroyed 80 per cent of the city’s buildings – making it “the most destroyed city in modern times”. Among the destroyed buildings were hospitals, mosques, schools and universities. The destruction of water and electricity systems and the contamination of the bombed cities with unexploded remnants of wars posed additional harm and hardship to civilians. In Hawijah, an aerial attack on the industrial district caused a shock wave of more than 2 kilometres that led to the death of at least 70 civilians and severe destruction of surrounding residential areas.

“These case studies show once again the unacceptably high levels of civilian casualties and destruction as a result of bombing and shelling in cities and other populated areas” – Laura Baillot, coordinator of INEW.

The report shows with shocking evidence that civilians pay a high prize when explosive weapons with wide area effects are used in populated areas. Even while using explosive weapons with precision or small munitions, the immediate risks to civilians during the intense bombing and the long-term effects of explosive weapons remain. The destruction of crucial infrastructure and contamination with unexploded remnants of war force people to flee and make whole neighbourhoods uninhabitable.

International Humanitarian Law is not sufficient to address the grave humanitarian suffering that is caused by the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas. It does not characterize technical details of specific weapons systems or operational contexts. The report supports HI’s call for a strong political declaration against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

 


Read the full report here.


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