Explosive weapons have caused “unprecedented” devastation for civilians in 2023, warns Handicap International

Seventy-five countries and territories, or a third of the globe, were affected in 2023 by the use of explosive weapons, causing an “unprecedented” level of damage to civilian infrastructure and populations

Explosive weapons have caused “unprecedented” devastation for civilians in 2023, warns Handicap International

Seventy-five countries and territories, or a third of the globe, were affected in 2023 by the use of explosive weapons, causing an “unprecedented” level of damage to civilian infrastructure and populations. According to a report published Monday April 22 by Handicap International, the number of civilians killed by explosive weapons increased by 122% in 2023 compared to the previous year.

The Handicap International report also identifies a very sharp increase in attacks against health infrastructure (763 incidents, 12% in 2023), education (80%) or humanitarian aid. Nine countries or territories are particularly affected: Lebanon, Burma, Pakistan, Palestine, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen.

The war in Gaza, where the Israeli army has been waging an offensive for six months in response to the unprecedented attack by Palestinian Hamas on October 7, weighs heavily on this increase. The report cites World Bank data according to which more than 60% of housing has been destroyed or damaged in the Palestinian territory, one of the most densely populated in the world.

Mass displacements and contamination

The report notes that civilians represent 90% of victims of explosive weapons used in cities. “The use of explosive weapons in urban areas has absolutely devastating consequences for civilians,” Gilles Lordet, head of advocacy communications at Handicap International, told Agence France-Presse. In addition to the deaths, these weapons “cause massive population displacements and have long-term consequences such as soil contamination” by mines or unexploded ordnance, he notes.

The publication of the report comes as a three-day international meeting opens Monday in Oslo to discuss the implementation of a 2022 political declaration aimed at better protecting civilians against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, signed by 86 countries. Twenty-eight of them are among the countries affected by the use of explosive weapons, notes Handicap International.