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September 04, 2020

States must commit to a strong political declaration against bombing in populated areas

Silver Spring, Maryland, September 4, 2020 — States gather Monday Sept. 7, for an online panel discussion, "Protecting Civilians in Urban Warfare." Panelists will address issues, policies and practices related to the use of explosive weapons in populated areas--a major humanitarian issue in places like Yemen, Libya, and Syria, where daily bombing has devastating consequences for the civilians.

The conference precedes a final round of negotiations on a political declaration against bombing in populated areas. Humanity & Inclusion, as a co-founding member of the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW), is fully engaged in the diplomatic process to urge States to support a strong political declaration.

A strong political declaration would be an important tool to protect civilians, as armed conflicts are increasingly fought in populated areas; mainly cities. The impact of the use of explosive weapons is devastating for civilians. According to Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) data between 2011-2019, explosive weapons killed or injured more than 250,000 civilians. When explosive weapons are used in populated areas, 90% of the victims are civilians.

The conference helps to relaunch the diplomatic process, which was temporally postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants will discuss the human suffering caused to civilians by bombing and shelling in urban areas, as well as the technical, legal and military aspects of urban warfare.

Bombing populated areas is a major humanitarian issue, causing deaths, complex injuries, psychological trauma, destruction of vital infrastructure, population displacement and unexploded ordnance contamination,” says Humanity & Inclusion Advocacy Director Anne Héry. Indeed, such destruction is one of key drivers of population displacement.

More than 70 States are involved in this political process, recognizing the urgency to act and participating in the drafting of a political declaration. The United States will send a representative to speak at the September 7 event, but has not yet shown support for a political declaration.

The negotiation process for a political declaration started with a first meeting on November 18, 2019, in Geneva, and should close with a Conference to be scheduled early 2021 in Dublin, when a political declaration should open for endorsements. Humanity & Inclusion and INEW members continue to dialogue with States to convince them to fully support a strong political declaration to end the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas and support the affected people.

Humanity & Inclusion calls for U.S. citizens to support this effort, with a focus on mobilizing their representatives in Congress.

 

Experts available

Humanity & Inclusion experts are available for comment.

Media contact: Mica Bevington, +1 202-290-9264

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 38 years. Working 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.”