The number of civilian casualties in conflicts around the world plummeted during the Covid-19 pandemic, a new report shows.
Last year, it was reported that an average of 10 civilians per day were killed by explosive weapons, up from 18 in 2019, according to analysis of Action Against Armed Violence (AOAV), a London-based charity.
In total, 8,165 people were killed by explosive weapons – artillery shells, rockets, mortar bombs and aerial bombardments – in 48 countries and territories last year, of which 3,668 were civilians, it said. More than 10,500 people were reportedly injured.
The 43% drop represents the largest percentage drop in civilian conflict casualties reported in the past 10 years.
In March of last year, the Secretary General of the UN, António Guterres, called for a global ceasefire that allows the breathing space necessary to handle the coronavirus pandemic.
Iain Overton, AOAV Director, said: “Our data seems to support that there is an overall decrease in deaths and injuries as a result of the pandemic. It could be due to fewer reports of violence, or it could be due to restrictions due to the pandemic and the ceasefire.
“If the pandemic can prevent people from exploiting people, why can’t states do it?” added. “This is proof that man-made violence can be prevented.”
The data was released when nations gathered online this week to resume. talks on a political declaration to strengthen the protection of civilians in urban warfare. About 70 states are expected to participate in the consultations, which will begin on March 3.
Laura Boillot, coordinator of the International Network on Explosive Weapons, an international network of NGOs, said: “What Covid has shown is that when humanity focuses on more pressing issues, it can reduce violence. Why does it take a pandemic to stop bombing civilians? “
Last year was the fourth year in a row that reports of civilian deaths from explosives have declined, largely due to the short-term defeats of Islamist groups such as Isis in Iraq and Syria, and Boko Haram in Nigeria.
Afghanistan was the deadliest conflict for civilians last year, with 3,490 civilians killed and injured by explosives, according to the data. The country overtook Syria, which recorded 3,013 deaths and injuries, for the first time since 2011, when AOAV began collecting data.
Pakistan, Yemen and Libya followed with 684, 683 and 671 civilian casualties reported respectively.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (Unama) has reported a “disturbing” increase in the number of civilians killed and injured since the start of peace negotiations in September.
About 43% of civilians registered in 2020 were women and children. More women died in the conflict in 2020 than in any year since Unama began systematic documentation in 2009.
in a Last month’s report, Unama expressed “grave concern” over the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, especially the use of indirect fire such as artillery shells, mortars and rockets during ground engagements, but also the use of air strikes and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
AOAV’s explosive violence monitoring project records victims using data from the Londo-based non-profit monitoring agency Airwars, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, and trusted English media sources.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism