LONDON - London-based charity Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) has released a report that reveals explosive weapons were responsible for over 31,000 deaths and injuries across 4,322 incidents globally in 2022. Out of the total number of casualties, over 20,000 were civilians, accounting for 66%.
The report highlights that explosive weapons used in populated areas were responsible for 90% of civilian casualties, while other areas accounted for only 12%.
AOAV recorded 19,632 civilians killed and injured in populated areas globally, which represented 94% of globally reported civilian deaths and injuries.
The report shows that civilian casualties from the use of explosive weapons soared by 83% last year because of the war in Ukraine, according to AOAV. The total number reported killed and injured in 2022 was 20,793, the highest level since 2018, with 10,351 casualties in Ukraine alone, based on reports from English language media.
Explosive weapon use in towns and cities accounted for 69% of incidents recorded in 2022, but caused 94% of all reported civilian casualties, with the figure even higher in Ukraine partly because of Russia’s tactics of targeting urban areas. “Russian explosive attacks,” said Iain Overton, Executive Director of AOAV, were “specifically aimed at the Ukrainian civilian population” – and when aimed at towns and cities, he added “over 95% of those killed or injured were reported to be civilians”.
The use of explosive weapons in conflict zones has a significant impact on vulnerable populations, with women and children disproportionately affected. Reported female civilian casualties of explosive violence rose by 1.6% from 744 in 2021 to 756 in 2022, and child casualties fell to 5% in 2022 from the 13% recorded in 2021.
AOAV is calling for stronger protections for civilians in conflict zones and an end to the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. "The findings of this report are deeply concerning and show the devastating impact of explosive violence on civilians around the world," said Iain Overton, Executive Director of AOAV. "We must take urgent action to prevent further harm to innocent civilians.”
The report's findings also indicate a significant increase in civilian casualties from explosive violence in 2022, with an 83% rise compared to 2021 - the largest increase in recorded civilian casualties from explosive weapons globally since 2011. The average number of civilians harmed per incident rose from 4.5 in 2021 to 4.8 in 2022, indicating a 7% increase.
Incidents were recorded in 60 countries and territories around the world, which is three more than in 2021. This highlights the global impact of explosive violence and the urgent need for action to protect civilians. The report also reveals that Ukraine, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, and Ethiopia saw the highest number of global civilian casualties in 2022.
Ukraine, in particular, saw a significant increase in harm compared to 2021, with a rise of 36,868% from 28 civilian casualties to 10,351 in 2022. This can be attributed to state-based violence from Russia, which caused 45% of all reported civilian casualties globally.
The report's findings provide a stark reminder of the ongoing impact of explosive violence on civilians around the world and the need for urgent action to protect vulnerable populations in conflict zones.