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Bombing populated areas: a disaster for civilians

Bombing populated areas: a disaster for civilians

The United Nations Security Council discusses the protection of civilians in armed conflict the week of May 20, 2019. A delegation from Humanity & Inclusion is at the United Nations headquarters in New York to convince States to commit themselves against bombing populated areas. Arms Advocacy Manager, Alma Al Osta, is at the helm of the delegation. She took time to explain Humanity & Inclusion's actions:

Meetings - lots of meetings!

The Humanity & Inclusion delegation has planned several meetings with state delegations to convince them to commit themselves against bombing populated areas. A few days ago, we addressed them by letter to encourage them to refer to bombing in populated areas as a major problem for the protection of civilians in armed conflict when they speak at the Security Council debate. We also asked them to support the political process initiated by Austria, Ireland and several States in favor of an international political declaration against explosive weapons in populated areas. Humanity & Inclusion has been working for years with States and other NGOs on such a political declaration.

Civilians front and center

Bombings in populated areas have disastrous and long-term consequences for civilians--consequences that Humanity & Inclusion confronts daily in places like Libya and Yemen, and among Syrian refugees. At a breakout conference of the Security Council debate on May 23rd, we will report on what we have seen in the field: the suffering of civilians caused by bombings in urban areas. That includes disabling injuries, psychological trauma, destruction of vital civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and schools, population displacement, contamination by explosive remnants...

Bombing populated areas: 92% of victims are civilians

Bombing in populated areas has become a common practice in armed conflicts. Civilians are the main victims. According to Action on Armed Violence, more than 42,000 people were killed or injured by explosive weapons of all kinds - bombs, mortars, rockets, etc. - in 2017. When explosive weapons are used in populated areas, 92% of the victims are civilians.

Protection of civilians

During armed conflict, those who do not take part in the fighting must not be attacked. They must be spared and protected. The concept of "protection of civilians" thus encompasses the rules of international humanitarian law to protect all those - men, women, children - who do not take part in fighting.

20 years since the first UN resolution on the protection of civilians

Twenty years ago, in 1999, the United Nations Security Council noted that civilians had become the main victims of armed conflict and adopted its first resolution on the protection of civilians (Resolution 1265): "Civilians constitute the vast majority of victims of armed conflict and [...] combatants and other armed elements are increasingly targeting them." The same year, the Security Council decided on the first peace keeping mission dedicated to the protection of civilians (Sierra Leone).

 

Photo: On the 5th and 6th of December 2018, HI co-organized a regional conference in Santiago, the capital of Chile, on protecting civilians from bombing. 25 governments and a dozen civil society organizations and international NGOs attended. The organization raised awareness of this crucial issue and encouraged states to take a stand against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. © HI