Members of community groups, school pupils and teachers will lead Forgotten 10 Challenge events in over 30 locations from Kent to Glasgow this December. Moved by the tragic fate of families living in war zones, campaigners are taking action to make sure those civilians are not forgotten. They will be campaigning against the bombing of civilians, particularly the use of explosive weapons such as cluster bombs in populated areas.
When explosive weapons are used in populated areas a shocking 92% of all victims are civilians. This year campaigners are calling on the UK government and States worldwide to commit to ending the use of explosive weapons in populated areas and to take the lead in influencing other states to do the same. They are also calling for more funds to assist the victims and prevent further injuries and deaths by clearing unexploded weapons.
In assemblies, lessons and through activities involving entire schools, pupils will be learning about the issues and responding by campaigning and fundraising for injured and victims of conflict. At Pendle Vale College in Lancashire pupils are writing to their local member of Congress and will then organize a range of fundraising activities including a bake sale. At Writhlington School in Somerset pupils are organizing a talent show to raise funds.
Community groups including lots of Soroptimist Clubs will be raising awareness and their voices locally with a range of activities. Kidderminster Soroptimist Club are organizing a fundraising quiz and there will be library displays in Ashford and Glasgow. In Lancashire, Cockermouth Soroptimists will take to the High Street to raise support for the Stop Bombing Civilians campaign.
The number of civilians killed or injured in bombings has almost doubled over the past 6 years and over 45,000 people were killed or injured in 2016 . Research by Handicap International has found that 53% of injuries sustained by Syrian refugees and internally displaced people are due to explosive weapons - victims face major, long-term trauma, and 15% of these victims had to undergo amputations .
Victims like 10-year-old Nada (above) who was injured with her father in a bombing in Mosul, in April 2017. She has a below knee amputation and had open wounds in the chest and the face. The physical therapy sessions provided by Handicap Internationalhelp to alleviate the pain she has in her chest and jaw but without the surgery she won’t be able to eat easily. We are also working with Nada to provide psychological support.
As well as injuries, displacement and the destruction of vital infrastructure, there are a wide and complex range of consequences from bombings such as the rise in crime, the loss of belongings and income and the trauma associated with living in constant fear of bombings. Based on research with Syrian refugees in Lebanon, including in-depth interviews with refugee women, Handicap International’s new report, “Everywhere the bombing followed us”  shines a light on these issues.
“War destroyed the best years of my life, it took my son, my brothers, it took my existence, it made me sick, because of fear and stress. I am a hostage of loneliness.” says Amira, 44, who was a teacher in a small Syrian town and lost one of her sons and her husband in a bombing.
Aleema Shivji, Executive Director of Handicap International UK explains: “Parties to present-day conflicts appear to think it's normal to bomb populated areas, such as towns and villages, without regard for civilian lives. With war comes responsibility. There are international rules that must be enforced - all states have a responsibility to ensure international humanitarian law is upheld and enforced. The international community must ensure protection and life-saving assistance in response to the immediate needs of Syrian refugees and all victims of explosive weapons, from all impacted areas and wherever they are. No civilian, no innocent child should suffer and die because of these weapons.”
The threat to civilians does not stop at the end of a conflict as explosive weapons can pose a danger for decades.
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During recent armed conflicts, explosive weapons have been used on a massive scale, killing and injuring thousands of civilians.
When explosive weapons are used in populated areas, a shocking 92% of casualties are civilians.
In 2016, over 45,000 people were killed or injured by explosive weapons. Civilians in countries such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Afghanistan have been particularly badly affected. The number of civilians killed has nearly doubled since 2011.
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