FEEDBACK – Inauguration of the 4th Unknown Civilian Memorial in Berlin | October 13, 2020

Inauguration of the "Memorial for Unknown Civilians" in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, October 2020

Dr. Klaus Lederer, Mayor of Berlin and Senator, Dr. Inez Kipfer-Didavi, Managing Director of Handicap International Germany, and Nivin Almaksour, Syrian survivor of explosive weapons, laid a wreath at the “Memorial for Unknown Civilians” in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. During the event, the names of killed and injured civilians were read out, […]

Dr. Klaus Lederer, Mayor of Berlin and Senator, Dr. Inez Kipfer-Didavi, Managing Director of Handicap International Germany, and Nivin Almaksour, Syrian survivor of explosive weapons, laid a wreath at the “Memorial for Unknown Civilians” in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

During the event, the names of killed and injured civilians were read out, while members of the German Parliament presented larger-than-life portraits of survivors.

Inez Kipfer-Didavi, Managing Director of Handicap International Germany, and Nivin Almaksour, Syrian survivor of explosive weapons, at the "Memorial for Unknown Civilians" in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, October 2020
Inez Kipfer-Didavi, Managing Director of Handicap International Germany, and Nivin Almaksour, Syrian survivor of explosive weapons, at the “Memorial for Unknown Civilians” in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, October 2020. © Marlene Gawrisch/ HI

With this moving ceremony at the temporary memorial, HI aimed to draw attention to the numerous unknown civilian victims of explosive weapons in populated areas. More than 50 civilian casualties every day: that is the appalling record of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. Whether in Syria, Iraq or Yemen – entire cities are transformed into fields of rubble by this pattern of violence. In particular, untargeted attacks and tthe bombing of residential areas lead to numerous victims, 90 percent of whom are civilians.

With the support of 13 members of parliament of all democratic parties, the Unknown Civilian Memorial was inaugurated in front of the Brandenburg Gate near the German Parliament, which is also currently discussing a motion to better protect civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

Mayor and Senator for Culture and Europe of the State of Berlin, Dr. Klaus Lederer said:

A drastic consequence of the use of explosive weapons is forced escape. If people don’t lose their lives in bombings, too often they lose their homes, they have to flee to save their bare lives. In Berlin, too, many refugees have found refuge who have innocently suffered this martyrdom. Among them are many children who – and this is something you have to imagine – experience peace here for the first time, sleep through the night without fear, play with friends without worries. I very much hope that Handicap International’s call for an end to the use of explosive weapons in populated areas will be taken up in the ongoing United Nations’ negotiations on the protection of civilians”.

Dr. Inez Kipfer-Didavi, Managing Director of Handicap International Germany, in turn praised Berlin’s support as the inauguration was supported by the patronage of the Governing Mayor of Berlin :

Berlin has experienced for itself the sufferings that war and bombing can cause for the civilian population. It is a good sign when the city’s political leaders use this memorial to show solidarity with the people who are suffering from current wars.”

The suffering of the civilian population

HI supports people affected in many crisis regions. Nivin Almaksour, Syrian survivor of explosive weapon missions, has experienced this suffering personally.

Nine years of war, that means nine years of bombing, killing, destruction, expulsion… In these nine years I have lost everything, my home, my country, my friends and people who are dear to me”.

Said the young woman in front of the memorial.

“Stop bombing civilians”

The international community is currently negotiating a political declaration at the United Nations in Geneva on better protection of civilians in urban warfare. HI calls on Germany and all countries worldwide to:

  • publicly condemn bombing of the civilian population.
  • end the use of explosive weapons with wide area effect in populated areas.
  • assist the victims and support the demining of bombed areas.

Particularly large bombs or other explosive weapons that hit random areas cause civilian casualties whenever they are used in residential areas. We do not want to accept this suffering any longer and therefore call on all governments to stop using such weapons in populated areas in the future,”

emphasised Dr. Eva Maria Fischer, Head of the political department of HI Germany and German representative of the International Network against Explosive Weapons (INEW).


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Posted in Disarmament, Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas, Feedback, Syria, YemenTagged