October 6, 2020
The use of heavy explosive weapons in the cities of Ganja and Stepanakert, and other towns and populated areas in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is killing and injuring civilians, and destroying vital infrastructure.
INEW calls on all parties to the conflict to stop the use of heavy explosive weapons in towns, cities and other populated areas due to the high risk of harm to civilians, and amid rising civilian casualties.
The International Committee of the Red Cross reports that hundreds of homes and infrastructure including hospitals and schools, as well as roads, electricity, gas and communications networks, have been destroyed or damaged by heavy artillery fire and by airborne attacks using missiles forcing families to leave the towns and find shelter.
Every year tens of thousands of civilians are killed and injured by bombing and shelling in urban and other populated areas using weapons designed for use in open battlefields. Many more civilians experience life-changing injuries, and suffer from destruction of homes, hospitals, schools and vital services. The use of explosive weapons is also one of the main catalysts of forced displacement, as civilians flee for safety. Unexploded ordnance left behind after a conflict has ended further impedes the safe return of civilians.
The bombing and shelling in these towns and cities highlights the needs for new international standards against the use of heavy explosive weapons in towns and cities. Heavy explosive weapons are those with wide area effects, and include weapons that produce a large blast area or spread fragments widely, weapons that deliver multiple munitions that saturate a large area, such as multiple-launch rocket systems, and inaccurate weapons where the effects of the weapon extend beyond the target. When used in cities and towns where there are concentrations of civilians, the risk of harm to civilians is great
Over 100 countries have recognized the harm caused to civilians from the use of explosive weapons in cities, towns and other populated areas. States have started discussions on the development of new international standards to adopt stronger rules against attacks using heavy explosive weapons in cities, towns and other populated areas, under the leadership of Ireland. INEW calls upon states to include in the elaboration of a political declaration, a commitment to avoid use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas.
Humanity & Inclusion comment
Humanity & Inclusion Disarmament Advocacy Manager, Alma Al Osta reacts:
“The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh is the latest example of how bombing in urban areas affect civilians. As the conflict has escalated, belligerents have used heavy bombs, killing and injuring civilians, and destroying vital infrastructure… We condemn the bombing and shelling – and the use of banned cluster munitions – that have devastating humanitarian impacts on civilians. A strong, international political declaration against bombing in populated areas is urgently needed.”
About Humanity & Inclusion
Humanity & Inclusion is a co-founder of INEW, and sits on its steering committee.
Humanity & Inclusion is an independent international aid organization, working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster for 38 years. Alongside people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups, our actions and voice are focused on responding to their essential needs, improving their living conditions and promoting respect for their dignity and basic rights. Since its founding in 1982, Humanity & Inclusion (the new name of Handicap International) has set up development programs in more than 60 countries and intervenes in numerous emergency situations. There are eight national associations within the network (Germany, Belgium, Canada, United States, France, Luxembourg, UK and Switzerland), working tirelessly to mobilize resources, co-manage projects and increase the impact of the organization’s principles and actions. Humanity & Inclusion is one of six founding organizations of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize and winner of the 2011 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize. Humanity & Inclusion takes action and campaigns in places where “living in dignity” is no easy task.”