Published On: Tue, May 12th, 2015

The use of explosive weapons in Syria: A time bomb in the making


The Use of Explosive Weapons in Syria: a Time Bomb in the Making

Amman, May 12th. Handicap International releases today its report called “The Use of Explosive Weapons in Syria: a Time Bomb in the Making” warning of the high degree of weapons contamination in Syria which puts the life of 5.1 million of Syrians –including 2 million children – at high risk. Handicap International calls on the parties to the conflict to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law and immediately end the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. The international community must also urgently respond to the consequences on civilians caused by those arms.

Based on an analysis of 77,645 incidents collected between December 2012 and March 2015, the study conducted by Handicap International shows that explosive weapons are the most commonly used weapons in the Syria conflict with more than four out of five reported incidents related to explosive weapons .The lives of civilian populations are gravely endangered as 75% of these incidents are taking place in populated areas. In the sole Damascus governorate, 5.353 incidents were reported representing an average of 7 incidents per day. In total, 5.1 million of people – including 2 million children – are living in areas highly affected by the use of explosive weapons, creating an immediate and long term threat to their lives.

As all parties to the conflict are extensively using explosive weapons, the consequences on civilians are dreadful. “Because of their blast or fragmentation effects, explosive weapons kill or generate complex injuries. The wide use of explosive weapons combined with the lack of appropriate surgical care in Syria has a devastating impact on people’s life. When injuries are not properly treated, it is likely that the patient will not fully recover and will develop long term impairments. With more than one million war-wounded in Syria, this is an entire generation who will suffer the consequences of those weapons.” said Anne Garella, Regional Coordinator of Handicap International.

Beyond the immediate threat posed by explosive weapons, the report highlights the deadly legacy that is left behind by explosive remnants of war (ERW).When roads and streets have been targeted by bombing and shelling, the contamination prevents the population to escape warfare or to go to the nearest hospital. Contamination by ERW destroys livelihoods as farmers and herders cannot attend their land or cattle anymore.On the longer term, ERWare an obstacle to the return of displaced populations, and to the overall reconstruction of the country.

“Syria will inherit the deadly legacy of explosive weapons for years” declaredAnne Garella.”Immediate risk education projects should be a priority to avoid further accidents and training should be provided at community level to raise awareness of local, displaced and returning populations. The international community should grasp the full extent of the problem and plan for future clearance and rubble removal projects of highly contaminated areas”

This report highlights the need for urgent actions to protect civilians from the use of explosive weapons. Parties to the conflict should immediately comply with International Humanitarian Law and stop using explosive weapons in populated areas. Handicap International also calls on all States to condemn and use their leverage to ensure that parties to the conflict stop this use, and to actively engage in the discussions currently taking place towards an international political commitment to stop the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

360 000 people have already benefited from actions undertaken by Handicap International since the association’s operations were launched in 2012. The organization provides physical rehabilitation, psychological support and emergency distributions to respond to essential needs of people with injuries, persons with disabilities and most vulnerable persons. In addition, Handicap International delivers awareness and safety messages to local population to prevent accidents caused by explosive remnants of war. In Syria, more than 71,500 people have already benefited from these actions.

Methodology:The report draws its analysis from a compilation of secondary data, including datasets from UN agencies and International Non Governmental Organizations, open source media and social media reports. A consolidated database of 77,645 incidents, collected between December 2012 and March 2015 was created. Available data was then used to map the frequency and severity of incidents in order to evaluate the weapons contamination that is currently affecting and will continue to affect the civilian population in Syria.

Press contacts

Sarah Pierre Regional Communication Advisor – Syria Crisis Handicap International – Emergency Response Division Phone (Jordan): + 962 (0)78 077 61 32 Phone (Lebanon): +961 (0)79 102 209 skype: sarahpierre05

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