When explosive weapons, whether used in air-strikes or other means, are used in populated areas 92% of the victims are civilians. Politicians must take action to protect civilians.
Since 1st September, HI has been appealing to politicians in eight countries - Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the United States and the United Kingdom. HI is aiming to raise the awareness of parliamentarians to the humanitarian disaster caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
Our organisation is calling on politicians in those eight countries to take a stand against this scourge by signing the "Stop Bombing Civilians” petition and championing this cause in parliament. HI is also calling on MPs to pressure governments to take a stand against this barbaric practice.
The UK has an informal lead role on the UN Security Council on the protection of civilians and is amongst 90 States to have recognised humanitarian concerns over the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and a key member of US-led coalition forces undertaking military operations in Syria and Iraq, HI is calling on the UK to increase its efforts to protect civilians in armed conflicts. Such efforts must include the review of existing practices to ensure that policies and procedures that maximise the protection of civilians are in place. This should include but is not limited to updating the UK’s Protection of Civilians in Conflict Strategy to include a focus on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
Over the past week HI has written to every MP in the UK to raise awareness about the human consequences of using explosive weapons in populated areas and to generate support for the Stop Bombing Civilians campaign. HI supporters have also been writing to their local MPs, asking them to get involved with the campaign.
"Since 92% of casualties are civilians, they can no longer be considered as collateral damage."
"Bombing and shelling, a practice that has become virtually systematic in current conflicts, almost exclusively kill and injure civilians - men, women and children who have nothing to do with the fighting and who should be protected from the effects of war."
"By appealing to members of parliaments, we hope that this campaign will ensure politicians are better informed, raise public awareness and get people talking about the issue, and encourage politicians to take a stand and find political solutions to this scourge," says Aleema Shivji, Executive Director of Humanity & Inclusion UK.
Present-day conflicts are increasingly fought in urban areas and the use of explosive weapons is now almost systematic. The bombing of populated areas has a disastrous impact on civilians, including death, disabling injuries, psychological trauma, forced displacement, destruction of vital infrastructure such as hospitals and schools, and the contamination of areas by explosive remnants of war.
For example, more than 800,000 people were forced to flee bombing during the military offensive on the Iraqi city of Mosul between October 2016 and July 2017. An estimated 8 million tonnes of rubble has been contaminated by explosive remnants, hindering the return of residents and the reconstruction of seriously damaged cities.
States must recognise the humanitarian problems caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. Governments across the world must commit to finding political solutions to bring an end to this practice and ensure civilians are protected from the effects of war, as required under international humanitarian law.