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.”
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]
Next President Can Swiftly Make World Safer from Landmines and Cluster Munitions
(Washington, DC, October 26, 2020) Demanding a reversal of changes made in the past three years that have moved the United States further from support of international agreements banning antipersonnel mines and cluster munitions, the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines - U.S. Cluster Munition Coalition (USCBL-USCMC) issued recommendations today for the president who will be elected next month.
Review the USCBL - USCMC policy memo here
"The United States is out of step with its allies and the broader global consensus to ban landmines and cluster munitions. The election provides an opportunity for whoever is President in 2021 to reset U.S. policy and finally join the Mine Ban Treaty and Convention on Cluster Munitions," said Jeff Meer, Steering Committee Chair for USCBL-USCMC and U.S. Executive Director of Humanity & Inclusion.
The recent flare up of fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh and international condemnation of the use of cluster munitions there has reminded the global community that these indiscriminate weapons are a danger to civilians and not yet weapons of the past. U.S. efforts to negotiate a resolution to the conflict would be aided if Washington could legitimately echo these concerns.
In 2017, the current administration reversed a policy that would have barred the use of most cluster munitions in the U.S. stockpile. The U.S. has not used cluster munitions in more than a decade.
Cluster munitions have been banned because of their widespread indiscriminate effect and long-lasting danger to civilians. Cluster munitions typically explode in the air and send dozens, even hundreds, of small bomblets over an area the size of a football field. These cluster submunitions often fail to explode on initial impact, leaving duds that act like landmines.
In the memorandum, the campaign also highlighted changes made this January to U.S. policy that would allow for use of victim-activated antipersonnel landmines anywhere in the world, instead of restricted to the Korean peninsula. The United States has not used antipersonnel landmines since 1991, excluding the use of a single munition in 2002. All other NATO allies and a total of 164 countries worldwide have agreed to universally foreswear all antipersonnel mines under the Mine Ban Treaty.
Within the first 100 days of the next administration, the campaign recommends that the President take the following steps:
Ban the use, production, and transfer of antipersonnel landmines and cluster munitions.
Immediately issue a policy commitment against using antipersonnel landmines and cluster munitions.
- Accede to the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Declare America’s intent to accede to the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Lay out an accelerated timeline for the destruction of stockpiled landmines and cluster munitions
Provide concrete plans and mechanisms for public reporting on progress destroying the stockpiles of these indiscriminate weapons.
U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines-U.S. Cluster Munition Coalition
The U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines-U.S. Cluster Munition Coalition is the U.S. affiliate of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines and the global Cluster Munition Coalition. The civil society coalition works to end the suffering caused by landmines and cluster munitions, which cause unacceptable harm to civilians both at their time of deployment and for decades after.
Experts available from organizations, including Humanity & Inclusion, Human Rights Watch, Legacies of War:
Coordinator, U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines - U.S. Cluster Munition Coalition
[email protected] | 646-527-5793
U.S. Director of Marketing and Communications, Humanity & Inclusion
[email protected] | 202-290-9264
Director, Arms Division, Human Rights Watch
[email protected] | 540-630-3011
Executive Director, Legacies of War
[email protected] | 614-753-3725
Statement | Use of heavy explosive weapons in towns and cities in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must stop
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.”
Cluster munitions | Annual report shows new uses of deadly weapon in Syria
The 2019 Cluster Munition Monitor, released on August 29, 2019, takes a serious look at the situation in Syria, where attacks involving cluster munitions continued to occur in 2018. The annual report counted at least 674 cluster munition attacks in Syria since mid-2012. As many as 40% of these weapons do not explode on impact, so these attacks have caused heavy contamination by cluster munition remnants, which themselves pose a deadly and long-term threat for the local population.
Click here to download the report
The Monitor assesses the implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (also known as the "Oslo Convention") which bans the use, production, transfer and storage of cluster munitions, for the period from January to December 2018. It also covers the first half of 2019, where information is available. The Cluster Munition Coalition produces the report each year, with
Among the key findings for 2018:
- New uses of cluster munitions were reported only in Syria, where at least 38 cluster munitions attacks occurred between July 2018 and June 2019. Since mid-2012, the Monitor has recorded at least 674 cluster munition attacks.
- The majority of annual casualties in 2018 (53%) were recorded in Syria, as has been the case since 2012. In Syria, 65 casualties of cluster munition attacks and 15 casualties of cluster munition remnants were reported in 2018, though we understand that actual figures are likely to be higher due to limited access and difficulties collecting data.
- 149 new cluster munition casualties in 2018, globally, caused either by attacks (65), or resulting from cluster munition remnants (84). It represents a sharp decline from 951 casualties recorded in 2016, mainly due to a change in the Syrian conflict context. This figure remains a major cause for concern: 99% of cluster munition victims are civilians
- 26 states and three regions remain contaminated by sub-munition remnants worldwide
Humanity & Inclusion calls on States to enforce international law. “The Oslo Convention is working, but we must consistently condemn any use of these barbaric weapons,” says Jeff Meer, U.S. Executive Director of Humanity & Inclusion. “The Convention has delivered important protections for civilians in conflict, led to the destruction of stockpiles and contributed to clearance of significant areas of contaminated land. States Parties have also made a lot of progress with respect to victim assistance, but the countries affected still count on the international community to fund necessary services for victims, who all too often live in extremely difficult conditions.”
Up to 40% of cluster munitions do not explode on impact when they are launched during an attack. In 2018, the Monitor tallies casualties from unexploded cluster munition remnants in eight countries and one territory: Afghanistan, Iraq, Laos, Lebanon, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, and Nagorno-Karabakh.
In 2018, Yemen had the highest recorded casualties due to cluster munition remnants (31). In Laos, 40 years after the conflict, casualties continue to be recorded (21). These figures highlight the dramatic consequences of using cluster munitions, which create long-term contamination by explosive remnants and a deadly threat for the population.
Fourteen State Parties to the Oslo Convention are home to cluster munitions victims requiring victim assistance. The Monitor reports that many face continued decline in funding for community-based work and diminished access to rehabilitation and economic activities. In many countries, more services, better coordination and greater integration into national systems remains necessary. Access to rehabilitation services for survivors in remote and rural areas also needs to be improved in at least three States, Chad, Guinea-Bissau, and Iraq.
Since the Convention came into force on August 1, 2010, 35 State Parties have destroyed 1.5 million cluster munition stockpiles, i.e. a total of 178 million sub-munitions. This represents 99% of all cluster munitions declared by State Parties.
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.
Convention on Cluster Munitions
The Convention on Cluster Munitions, often referred to as the "Oslo Convention," bans the use, storage, transfer, production and sale of cluster munitions, was opened for signature in December 2008. Currently, 120 countries are signatories to this convention, with 106 countries having acceded to or ratified the Convention.
Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor
This tenth annual Cluster Munition Monitor report has been prepared by the Cluster Munition Coalition, to be shared at the Ninth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, at the UN in Geneva, on 2–4 September 2019. It, along with the Landmine Monitor, is coordinated by a committee of ICBL-CMC staff and representatives from ICBL-CMC member organizations, DanChurchAid, Danish Demining Group, Human Rights Watch, Humanity & Inclusion, and Mines Action Canada.
Qasef: Escaping the bombing
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Qasef: Escaping the bombing (Sept 2016)
This report identifies indiscriminate bombing of civilians as the overriding factor forcing millions of Syrians to flee their homes. Based on interviews with Syrian refugees in July 2016, a document review, and expert interviews, the report identifies the large scale use of explosive weapons in populated areas as the most significant cause of the mass displacement of Syrians.Sign up
Syrian refugees: Everywhere the bombing followed us
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Everywhere the bombing followed us (Oct 2017)
This report features in-depth interviews of more than 200 Syrian refugees in Lebanon who confirm and detail the devastating and lasting social and economic effects of the use of explosive weapons. Over half of the refugees interviewed were displaced within Syria before fleeing to Lebanon, experiencing consequences ranging from personal injury to the death of one of more family members, the destruction of homes, infrastructure and/or livelihoods. The report finds women are most vulnerable.Sign up
The reduction of weapons-related violence
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The reduction of weapons-related violence (Aug 2018)
This brochure gives an overview of HI's history which is closely intertwined with the fight against armed violence, including the use of anti-personnel landmines, cluster munitions, and other explosive remnants of war. It provides an outline of our unique expertise in demining and land clearance, risk education, and victim assistance.Sign up
Cluster munitions| Investments in the banned weapon free fall
According to the NGO PAX, investments in cluster munitions have fallen from $31 billion to $9 billion in the past three years, reflective of a huge drop in support for the use of these internationally banned weapons.
Cluster munitions are bombs that opens mid-air to release hundreds of tiny bomblets that spread out over a wide area. Up to 40% fail to detonate on impact, and, much like landmines, cluster bombs remain “live” for decades. More than 90% of people killed by cluster munitions are non-combatants. However, several countries, including the U.S., continue to stock these indiscriminate weapons, and have yet to join the lifesaving treaty that bans them, the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
The dramatic 350% drop in production of cluster munitions is largely due to the fact that U.S. manufactures, Textron and Orbital ATK, have decided not to produce them anymore. However, seven companies continue to produce cluster munitions. The PAX report named 88 financial institutions that continue to invest in these cluster-munition manufacturers.
"Governments are increasingly aware that the use of cluster munitions is unacceptable," says Anne Héry, Director of Advocacy at HI. “120 countries have joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions, but only 11 of them have made it clear to financial institutions that supporting investments in cluster munitions is illegal. More needs to be done. We must work to reduce the sources of funding for these weapons in order to eradicate them."
According to the Cluster Munition Monitor 2018, published in August, cluster munitions were used in Syria and Yemen in 2017. In total, the Monitor recorded 289 new cluster munition casualties in 2017, including Syria and Yemen, and eight other countries where cluster munitions dropped during past conflicts have exploded.
Annual Cluster Munition Report: Sharp rise in causalities
August 31, 2017--The newest annual report on cluster munitions reveals a sharp rise in the number of new casualties of cluster munitions, which more than doubled between 2015 and 2016. Cluster Munition Monitor 2017, co-produced by Handicap International, officially records 971 casualties of cluster munitions in 2016 compared to 419 in 2015. Handicap International calls on States to comply with international law, and to pressure belligerent parties to end the use of this barbaric weapon.
The report finds that 98% of victims of cluster munitions were civilians in 2016, and 41% were children. The conflicts in Syria and Yemen are among the most hazardous in the world for civilians, according to the Monitor.
“In Syria, the use of these weapons shows that the belligerents have a total disregard for civilian lives, and in some cases a deliberate intention to target them,” says Jeff Meer, executive director of Handicap International in the U.S. “Those who survive contact with cluster munition explosions often become amputees, with significant social, economic and psychological consequences for them, their families and their communities.”
Cluster munition usage has been on the rise in Syria since mid-2012. The Syrian conflict alone accounted for 89% of the world’s cluster munition casualties in 2016, that is, 860 victims out of 971. There were 51 new casualties in Laos and 38 in Yemen.
Whereas the vast majority of new casualties were injured or killed in cluster munition attacks, there were 114 casualties of sub-munition remnants in 2016. Because up to 40% of these weapons do not explode on impact, sub-munitions become as dangerous as anti-personnel mines and make entire areas uninhabitable after conflict. Half of accidents reported in 2016 were in Laos, the country most heavily polluted by sub-munitions in the world.
A total of six States and one territory were affected by the use of cluster munitions since January 2015. In addition to Syria and Yemen, the use of cluster munitions was once again reported in the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, the subject of a dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and in Somalia in 2016, and Ukraine, Sudan and Libya in early 2015. According to reliable but unconfirmed reports, cluster munitions appear to have been used in Libya and Iraq in 2016 and early 2017.
Handicap International is alarmed by the widespread and uncontrolled use of these banned weapons. “War has rules and the Oslo Convention is part of that,” Meer says. “Every effort must be made to ensure it is enforced and to end the use of this barbaric weapon in conflict situations. States must ratify, defend, and apply the Oslo Convention, and the Ottawa Mine Ban Convention, and other provisions under International Humanitarian Law.”
Around the world, 26 States and three territories remain contaminated by cluster munition remnants. In 2016, nearly 34 sq. miles of land was cleared and 140,000 sub-munitions were made safe and destroyed. In addition to clearing mines, cluster munitions, and explosive remnants of war, Handicap International calls on States to support risk education and victim assistance programs that are also essential for continuing this vital work.
Handicap International calls on belligerent parties - States and non-State armed groups - to immediately end the use of cluster munitions. Handicap International also calls on States to pressure their allies using cluster munitions to end this practice. Lastly, Handicap International calls on all States to enforce the Convention on Cluster Munitions by immediately ending the sale or transfer of these weapons.
The Cluster Munition Monitor 2017 reviews every country in the world, including those not party to the Convention with respect to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which bans the use, production, trade, and stockpiling of cluster munitions, during the period from January 2016 to July 2017.
- Experts available for comment in Washington, DC, and Europe.
- Handicap International advocates will attend the Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Geneva, Switzerland from September 4–6, 2017, and are available for comment throughout the conference.
Cluster bombs are weapons containing several hundred mini-bombs called cluster munitions. Designed to be scattered over large areas, they inevitably fall in civilian areas. Up to 30% (or even 40%) do not explode on impact. Like anti-personnel mines, they can be triggered at the slightest contact, killing and maiming people during and after conflicts. By indiscriminately affecting civilian and military targets, cluster munitions violate international humanitarian law.
The Convention on Cluster Munitions banning the use, production, transfer, stockpiling and sale of cluster munitions was opened for signature in December 2008. There are currently 119 State signatories to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
About Handicap International
Handicap International is an independent international aid organization, taking action and campaigning in places where “living in dignity” is no easy task.. It has been working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster for 35 years. Working alongside persons 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 its founding in 1982, Handicap International has set up development programs in more than 60 countries and intervenes in numerous emergency situations. The network of eight national associations (Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States) works constantly to mobilize resources, jointly manage projects and to increase the impact of the organization’s principles and actions. Handicap International is one of six founding organizations of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), the co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 and the winner of the 2011 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, the world’s largest prize for humanitarians.
Cluster munitions: weapons made to massacre
Ninety-eight percent of recorded victims of cluster munitions are civilians, according to the Cluster Munition Monitor 2017, an annual report co-produced by Handicap International. These weapons kill, injure, maim, and cause serious psychological trauma. Up to 40% of submunitions do not explode on impact. They render whole areas uninhabitable, prevent the return of normal social and economic life, and displace people from their homes. These explosive remnants pose a threat to civilians, sometimes for decades after a conflict has ended.Read more