Sharp increase of cluster munitions casualties

Silver Spring, MD – Released today, the 2021 Cluster Munition Monitor reports the number of cluster munition casualties has increased by 30% in three years to at least 360 casualties in 2020, up from 277 in 2018. This increase is mainly due to new attacks using cluster munitions during the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict in October 2020. The conference of State Parties to the Oslo Convention, which bans the use of cluster munitions, takes place September 20-21.

Humanity & Inclusion is calling on states to enforce international law and for States, including the United States of America, to join the Convention.

The 2021 Cluster Munition Monitor report assesses the implementation of the Oslo Convention*, which bans the use, production, transfer and storage of cluster munitions. The report focuses on the calendar year for 2020, with information included up to August 2021 where possible.

Read the full report here.

Among the key findings for 2020:

  • There are at least 360 new cluster munition casualties in 2020 globally 142 casualties from attacks using these weapons and 218 as a result of cluster munition
  • This figure represents a 30% increase in three years (317 casualties in 2019, 277 in 2018). The main cause for this is the use of cluster munitions in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in October 2020. At least 107 people were killed or injured during these attacks.
  • Half of all casualties in 2020 (182) were recorded in Syria.
  • A total of 107 people were killed and 242 others were injured. The survival status for 11 casualties remains unknown.
  • Civilians accounted for all casualties whose status was recorded in 2020. Children accounted for 44% of all casualties.

“In the last three years, we have seen a sharp increase in the number of victims of cluster munitions, we must never tolerate atrocity,” says Perrine Benoist, Humanity & Inclusion’s Armed Violence Reduction Specialist. “We must constantly remind States and armed groups that the use of these weapons is banned and that international law must be enforced.”

Deadly remnants

Of the 360 total casualties in 2020, 218 were casualties from cluster munitions remnants. Casualties from cluster munitions remnants were reported in 7 countries including Syria (147 casualties), Iraq (31) and South Sudan (16). Up to 40% of the sub-munitions do not explode on impact and leave remnants that pose a threat to the local population.

“The impact of cluster munitions is horrific especially when they are used in areas with a high population density,” says Gary Toombs, Humanity & Inclusion’s Global EOD Specialist. “Civilians are killed. Cluster munitions kill and maim people at the moment of use, but unexploded cluster munitions will continue to pose a lethal threat to civilian lives for years to come.”

Cluster munitions attacks were also reported in Syria, resulting in 35 casualties. Syria is the only country to experience continued use of these weapons since 2012.

Progress to date

Since the Convention came into force on August 1, 2010, 36 State Parties have destroyed 1.5 million cluster munition stockpiles, totaling 178 million sub-munitions. This represents 99% of all cluster munitions declared by State Parties. Overall, 26 states and three regions remain contaminated by sub-munition remnants worldwide.

“The Oslo Convention has made great strides in protecting civilians against the scourge of cluster munitions,” Benoist adds. “Every year, existing stockpiles are destroyed and significant areas of contaminated land are cleared, while these weapons are increasingly stigmatized. But that is still not enough.”


  • Cluster bombs are weapons containing several hundred mini-bombs called cluster munitions. Designed to be scattered over large areas, they inevitably fall in civilian neighborhoods. Up to 40% do not explode on impact. Like anti-personnel mines, they can be triggered by the slightest contact, killing and maiming people during and after conflicts. As they make no distinction between civilians, civilian property and military targets, cluster bombs violate the rules of international humanitarian law.
  • *The Oslo Convention (known as the Convention on Cluster Munitions) which bans the use, storage, transfer, production and sale of cluster munitions, was opened for signatures in December 2008. Currently, 123 countries are signatories to this convention.

Humanity & Inclusion’s experts available for interview:

  • Gary Toombs, Global EOD Specialist
  • Perrine Benoist, Armed Violence Reduction Specialist
  • Marion Guillaumont, Armed Violence Reduction Advocacy

About Humanity & Inclusion

Humanity & Inclusion is an independent international aid organization. It has been working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster for 39 years. Working alongside people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups, our action and testimony are focused on responding to their essential needs, improving their living conditions and promoting respect for their dignity and basic rights. Since it was founded in 1982, Humanity & Inclusion (formerly 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, United Kingdom and Switzerland), working tirelessly to mobilize resources, co-manage projects and increase the impact of the organization’s principles and actions. HI 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 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize in 2011. HI takes action and campaigns in places where “living in dignity” is no easy task.

Press contact: Mica Bevington | +1 202-290-9264 | [email protected]