The United Nations has released its new annual report on the protection of civilians in war zones and calls on States to reach an international agreement against human suffering caused by bombing in populated areas.
Every year, Secretary General of the United Nations António Guterres publishes a report on the protection of civilians in conflict zones. Bombing and shelling in urban areas is identified as a major problem.
More than 50 million people were affected by conflict in urban areas in 2020, according to the latest report. In countries such as Afghanistan, Syria, and Yemen, the use of explosive weapons in populated areas has had devastating consequences for civilians.
Need for international agreement
In the report, Guterres calls on states to develop an international agreement against human suffering caused by bombing in populated areas. As part of a two-year international diplomatic process, states, international organizations and civil societies, including Humanity & Inclusion, have been working to draft proposed text. That proposed agreement is expected to be submitted to states for approval by the end of the year.
Humanity & Inclusion supports Guterres’ call, noting that the report stresses once again that there should be a presumption against the use of explosive weapons with wide area effect in populated areas. Humanity & Inclusion also welcomes more transparency in recording conflict casualties to help “facilitate accountability, recovery and reconciliation.”
“No explosive weapons with wide area effect in populated areas should be the international norm.” - Anne Héry, Humanity & Inclusion’s Advocacy Director
Dramatic humanitarian consequences
88% of those killed and injured by explosive weapons in populated areas are civilians. Injured people risk life-long disabilities and grave psychological trauma. Infrastructure required for essential services such as health, water, electricity and sanitation is often damaged or destroyed.
For example, after 10 years of war in Syria at least one-third of all homes are damaged or destroyed. Major cities like Raqqa, Aleppo and Homs have been largely demolished by extensive and intense use of explosive weapons. In 2017, 80% of the city of Raqqa was destroyed.
More recently in Gaza, 230 buildings were destroyed over 11 days of conflict. Six hospitals, 11 primary healthcare centers and 48 schools were damaged. Electricity, water, sanitation and hygiene facilities were severely affected. This infrastructure damage will have a deep and long-term impact on civilians.
Image: Heavy destruction in the streets of Aden, Yemen, in October 2017. Copyright: HI
After eight days of bombings, a 2 a.m. ceasefire took hold in Gaza on May 21. Amal, who works for Humanity & Inclusion in Gaza, took time on Friday May 21, to share her hopes and experiences for the days to come.
Q: What is happening in Gaza right now?
A ceasefire was declared at 2 a.m. Since then, everybody is trying to understand what’s happening. There is no bombing and no more fear. People went to the streets to celebrate the end of the bombing. Everyone in Gaza is just trying to understand what happened and what to expect in the upcoming days.
Q: Have you been able to go outside since the ceasefire?
I’m not sure I am ready to see what’s happening outside yet. My brother went out and he said there are a lot of damages to the streets and the nearby houses. I’m not sure I can do that yet. I’m just not ready. This is not the first experience for us, and I know the feeling when you go outside, see the damage, and remember the people who were alive just a week ago.
My spirit it not ready yet to see all this damage and loss.
Many who needed to evacuate their houses are going back to see the damages in hopes of returning. We had to evacuate our house. My cousins lost their apartments, my sister and her husband, too. When you have to leave your house, and decide what are the most important things to take with you, knowing that this is may be the last time that you see your room, your things, your street, this is a horrible experience. I feel exactly like everyone who had to experience this.
Q: Now that the bombing has ended, what are the current needs?
We have to start over from scratch, starting by rebuilding our spirits through psychological support. I have three nieces. The older one is 11 years old, and last night she jumped from her bed and ran around the house during her sleep. The other one is 9 years old, and she is talking in her sleep about the bombing. The entire community are victims now.
People are injured and need to lead new lives with their injuries. We may have finished the war with death, but now we have our war with life after this.
All of us are tired and need support, but this feeling will help us to provide more support to people in more need in our community. This will give us strength to continue to support them.
Q: Can you explain the work you do with Humanity & Inclusion and its contributions to the current needs?
I work as an Information Management Officer. I started this job the beginning of this year. Before this, I was working in the inclusive education project. I deal with numbers and data, so through my job I can show the impact of this violence on our beneficiaries. By producing numbers and fact sheets and so on, I can present what happened and what the people need. Through my job, I can represent what the needs are and how we can help our beneficiaries.
Q: What are you expecting in the coming days?
I feel more hopeful this time. I feel some solidarity from people around the world. I hope that this ceasefire will stay, but it isn’t so clear what is going to happen. So, I hope that this will stay and that we’ll never have to this experience again.
I have lived through four official wars and more conflicts than I can count. I don’t want to live through this again.
I’m very hopeful that this will work out and we’ll find a way to live our lives and support people in need without having to think about this kind of devastation anymore.
Header Image: Two Humanity & Inclusion staff members on the mobile emergency team walk down a dirt road after conflict in Gaza in 2018. Copyright: Hardy Skills/HI
Inline image: Amal
On May 20, 2021, Reham Shaheen, a Humanity & Inclusion staff member, shared her experience living amid conflict in Gaza:
We live in Gaza, nearest to the border. There was constant bombing around my house, including rockets and attacks.
I live with my family. I have three kids, two boys and one girl, and my husband. It is really difficult. We are all afraid. I fear for myself, my family and my husband. I’m thinking of my mother, my brother, my sisters and all of my loved ones. I’m really scared that I might lose someone. On TV I see what’s happening in the city, where many children and women are killed inside their homes. They were safe inside their houses, and they couldn’t do anything. They couldn’t escape. I always think about this, it could happen to me. Nowhere in the Gaza strip is safe, so you can’t go or evacuate to a safer place, because the bombing would still be right behind you.
I’m always tense and worried and haven’t slept in four days. I worry that nearby houses are evacuating and they forgot to tell me. What would happen to us? I spend a lot of time looking out the windows to see if there are people in the streets, if people are leaving to go to other places. I also watch the movement of ambulances, especially at night. Each evening is a nightmare. I always fear for my family, because I know I will not be able to protect them.
Yesterday (May 19), was really horrible. The bombing surrounded our house and many needed to leave during the day to escape from bombing in the streets, but some thought they would not be affected by the strength of the rockets. They stayed in their homes and when the bombing happened, many were forced to leave at 2 a.m. to seek shelter and find safety. It was a really terrifying night.
A family in fear
I do my best to keep my family engaged during the day. We play together, we eat, and we pray. But sometimes I’m so afraid and I can’t even talk to anyone about it. We can’t leave our home. We can’t move around.
For my kids, the whole atmosphere around them is horrifying. They hear the bombing all the time, and it’s really loud because it’s so close to our house. One of my kids was sick for three days. He had a fever due to experiencing so much panic. My daughter is only 2 years old, so when she hears the bombings or sees the curtains move from the blast, she runs away and screams, “Bombing! Bombing!” They hang onto me all day to try and feel safe.
One of my kids is not showing much response, but one night he was shaking and screaming all night. So, all this is really difficult for them as children. We don’t know how they really feel, their emotions, and each one has their own way to experience it. They are afraid of everything around them. If they hear a door close, they get scared and run away. If they see something moving, they are afraid and think it’s more bombing.
Helping injured and displaced civilians
I try to forget my fears by being committed to my work and by responding to the needs of vulnerable people. I work as a Rehabilitation Task Force Coordinator, and have been working with Humanity & Inclusion for seven years. It is important to me to support people during emergencies. I joined Humanity & Inclusion during the war of 2014, to respond to the needs of the emergency. I see the impact of our intervention on the people, and the need for Humanity & Inclusion and partner services.
I can see that I contribute through the emergency response project that we are running now with our partners. We identify and screen the needs of internally displaced people that go to the shelters and the hosting communities, and I ensure that our teams properly identify and respond to the needs of people with disabilities and people who are vulnerable. I’m so proud to do this. There is a high need for multidisciplinary services like physical therapy and wound dressing sessions to cope with current injuries and prevent disability. There is also need for assistive devices. Usually the needs of injured people change after a few weeks or a month because there is either a deterioration or improvement in their condition, so there is need for assistive devices and rehabilitation support.
Conflict in Gaza
In 2014, the whole conflict lasted around 51 days. At the time, it was the longest escalation in the Gaza strip, and maybe it was the hardest experience. This is the 11th day of the current escalation, but the level of destruction by the 11th day is much higher when compared to the entire 51 days in 2014. The type of weaponry used by the two parties is more advanced. The number of civilians affected is higher than in 2014 compared with the duration. If you look at the statistics, you can see that most of the casualties are civilians. These people are not engaged in any military work.
It is really difficult and has also caused destruction not only for the people themselves—the injuries or the killing of people—but also caused the destruction of the buildings, the infrastructure, the economy, all the streets are destroyed, including the ones leading to the main emergency hospitals in the Gaza strip. In Gaza, the economic situation is really bad, so these are poor families. They have limited access to basic needs and there is a need for the essentials such as water, food, medication, and cash. The need for mental health and psychological services is really high.
Header Image: The view outside of Reham Shaheen's window in North Gaza after days of violent conflict. Copyright: Reham Shaheen/HI
Inline Image: Reham Shaheen at work Copyright: HI
Ceasefire between Gaza and Israel enables local teams in Gaza to launch rehabilitation services for more than 500 people.
Twelve days after the most recent escalation of violence in Gaza, the parties involved have announced a ceasefire.
This long-awaited break comes after nearly eight days of constant bombings resulted in 242 lives lost between Gaza and Israel, including 67 children and 43 women. More than 1,700 people are injured.
“We’ve been waiting for a ceasefire,” says Laurent Palustran, Humanity & Inclusion’s country manager for the region. “We can now start responding to humanitarian needs with more ease and be able to intensify the distribution of a lot more aid than what we’ve done so far.”
According to a recent report by the UNWRA, approximately 91,000 people have been internally displaced, over 66,000 of whom have sought refuge in 58 UNWRA schools opened as emergency shelters. Humanity & Inclusion teams have conducted needs assessments of those displaced people to determine next steps.
“We’re starting to get clearer data thanks to these evaluations,” Palustran explains. “We have identified over 500 people in these shelters that have disabilities and are in need.”
Reham Shaheen, Humanity & Inclusion’s Rehabilitation Task Force Coordinator in Gaza, explains the needs of the vulnerable populations the organization serves in areas of conflict.
“Psychosocial support is one of the greatest needs,” Shaheen says. “Many will lose a limb or an organ and will have psychological needs afterwards. People really need mental health and counseling to cope with the current situation. Then there is great need for multidisciplinary rehabilitation services, like physical therapy and wound dressing sessions to prevent disabilities after injury.
“Usually the needs of injured people change after a few weeks. There is either deterioration or improvement in their condition, so there is dire need for assistive devices and rehabilitation support as well.”
Humanity & Inclusion is prepared to distribute mobility aids such as crutches, walkers and wheelchairs, along with Infection Prevention and Control kits to keep wounds clean and prevent infection that could lead to long-term ailments.
The Covid-19 pandemic has not let up in Gaza, with Johns Hopkins reporting a total of 304,532 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic, and 3,448 deaths between Gaza and the West Bank.
“This escalation occurred while we’re being hit with a second wave of Covid-19,” Shaheen explains. “We have two emergencies, so there is a need for hygiene kits. People need to have clean environments to be able to avoid illness, and in terms of injuries, to keep their wounds clean to avoid any infections.”
Image: A Humanity & Inclusion physical therapist assists an injured civilian in a rehabilitation session in Gaza in 2018. Copyright: Hardy Skills/HI
As violent bombings continue in Gaza, Humanity & Inclusion teams are providing psychological support, identifying injured civilians in need of rehabilitation, and preparing virus prevention for displaced people.
“The situation remains very tense,” says Laurent Palustran, Humanity & Inclusion Country Manager in Gaza. “The bombings continue, and our teams continue to work. We have identified more and more needs from various assessments.”
Over the past week, violence in Gaza has claimed more than 200 lives and injured more than 1,400 people, according to the United Nations. Immeasurable infrastructure damage has devastated hundreds of buildings and residences, leaving many of Gaza’s 2 million inhabitants with their homes damaged or destroyed. According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) reports, there are more than 48,000 internally displaced people within Gaza. Among them, Humanity & Inclusion has identified more than 250 in need of rehabilitation.
“People have been wounded,” Palustran explains. “These people have been operated on quickly, but there will be both short- and long-term consequences from their injuries, particularly for those who will be in situations of disability after what has happened.”
Humanity & Inclusion teams are already providing psychological support to those affected by the violence that has been raging for over a week. Staff will soon be able to provide lasting rehabilitation care in an effort to prevent lifelong disability.
“There are psychological traumas that will remain,” Palustran continues. “That’s why it is important to provide mental health support. The population is experiencing collective trauma.”
In response to the large number of internally displaced people, 58 UNWRA schools have opened as shelters for those who have lost their homes or been forced to leave. However, with the ongoing threat of the Covid-19 pandemic, and with no vaccine currently available to the population, the situation risks an increase in positive cases.
“What we’re seeing is that people come to seek shelter, but they don’t have the materials to protect themselves against Covid-19,” Palustran says. “We’re talking about nearly 50,000 people in the 50-something schools that have opened—that means nearly 1,000 people per school. People don’t wear masks and they are essentially on top of each other. There is a very high risk.”
To meet some of the basic hygiene needs of vulnerable civilians, Humanity & Inclusion is preparing to distribute infection prevention and control kits containing items such as soap, disinfectants, hand sanitizer, gloves, shampoo, laundry detergent, toilet paper and menstrual sanitation napkins, as well as preventative information regarding the virus.
Amidst recent international calls for ceasefire but without an end currently in sight, our teams recognize that even when the bombing stops, dangers to civilians will endure.
“It is certainly possible that some of the rockets that were launched have not yet exploded, therefore it may indeed be the case that we also have unexploded remnants of war,” Palustran explains.
This poses particular danger to children, who are often attracted to such curious objects without knowing what they are.
Humanity & Inclusion staff report being shocked by the violence they see and hear on a daily basis. On the night of May 17, bombings fell next to the Humanity & Inclusion offices and guesthouses. Luckily, staff members are safe and continue working from residences throughout Gaza to respond to the ongoing crisis.
Image: An HI rehabilitation professional cares for a wounded civilian in Gaza in 2018. Copyright: Hardy Skills/HI
In Gaza, the number of civilians injured or killed continues to rise. Nearly a hundred deaths and more than 480 injuries have been reported. Humanity & Inclusion teams are identifying the most pressing needs among the population, such as evacuation, shelter, and access to basic needs.
Humanity & Inclusion’s on-site teams, present in Gaza since 1996, confirm that three days into the escalation of violence, the situation remains critical. Constant bombings can be heard throughout the day.
“To prepare for effective intervention, we have begun to assess the most urgent needs of the affected civilians, most notably children and people with disabilities,” explains Laurent Palustran, Humanity & Inclusion’s country manager.
The area has seen damage to more than 2,000 housing units and total destruction of more than 500 homes, making evacuation and re-housing a priority for the most vulnerable people. Among those affected are members of Humanity & Inclusion own staff, who were urgently evacuated on Thursday to a safer area following explosions near their residences. In response, some schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) have opened their doors to temporarily house those in need. Yet the demand for safe shelter remains high.
Other pressing concerns identified include access to food, and basic hygiene, as damage to infrastructure worsens and the blockade continues. Humanity & Inclusion is equipped along with partner organizations to distribute food vouchers and hygiene kits as a first response. Staff is preparing to begin distribution of mobility aids such as crutches and wheelchairs.
Archive image: A Humanity & Inclusion team member helps a teenager injured by a cluster munition in Gaza in 2018. Copyright: Hardy Skills/HI
The resurgence of violence between Israelis and Palestinians since May 11, has already left dozens dead and many others injured, including at least nine children. Humanity & Inclusion’s teams, working in Gaza since 1996, are ready to deliver aid to the most vulnerable people, including those who are injured.
Within 24 hours of the latest outbreak of violence between Palestinians and Israelis, some 50 people were killed and many others injured, including nine children, between the two countries.
“Civilians are the main victims of these latest clashes,” explains Laurent Palustran, who manages Humanity & Inclusion’s actions in Gaza.
“We are particularly concerned about the most vulnerable people, including aging adults, people with disabilities, and isolated women. They find it difficult to move around and seek assistance, so they’re the first to be affected in crises and conflicts.
“Gaza is 1.86 miles wide and 26 miles long, and counts more than 2 million inhabitants. The population density is extremely high. This is why there are multiple civilian casualties as soon as a conflict and fighting break out. Airstrikes often also damage and destroy homes and infrastructure, including hospitals and schools, as well as roads, electricity grids, gas lines, and communication networks.”
Humanity & Inclusion is preparing to supply aid to the most vulnerable people through its teams and local partner organizations. Staff will also mobilize their pre-positioned humanitarian stocks, including hygiene kits and walking aids such as crutches and wheelchairs.
Gaza has been under blockade for a long time, and supplies are already extremely limited. The latest clashes could lead to a rapid deterioration of the situation. If the power plant is no longer supplied with fuel, there could be power shortages, and water could be in short supply. Food shortages are also a possibility.
If fighting continues, hospitals in Gaza risk an influx of injured people who will need urgent rehabilitation care after receiving emergency medical treatment. Humanity & Inclusion also fears that the situation facing the most vulnerable people will worsen unless they receive the humanitarian aid they need. It will also be necessary to provide support to people who have lost their homes as a result of bombing or who are unable to ensure their basic survival.
Image: A member of Humanity & Inclusion's mobile emergency team assists an injured man in Gaza in 2018. Copyright: Hardy Skills/HI
INEW, co-founded by Humanity & Inclusion, issued the following statement today. You can view the original here.
The use of heavy explosive weapons in the Gaza strip and Israel is killing and injuring civilians and must stop.
Violence sharply escalated after Israeli forces attempted to quell protestors in East Jerusalem. Rockets were fired into populated areas in Israel in retaliation by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups. This was followed by Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza strip, exacting a heavy toll on the civilian population.
As violence and casualties rise, INEW calls on all parties to stop the use of heavy explosive weapons in towns, cities and other populated areas due to the high risk of harm to civilians.
Dozens of civilians, including at least 14 children, have reportedly been killed in airstrikes in Gaza in just the past two days, with over 300 injured and hundreds more made homeless.  Israel has conducted dozens of airstrikes, including on a 13-storey residential building causing its complete collapse. During the same period, rocket fire over Israel reportedly killed three civilians and injured many others. The International Committee of the Red Cross has issued an urgent call for restraint and de-escalation: “Every minute that this cycle of violence continues is a danger to people's lives, their homes and the services and infrastructure they rely on like hospitals and schools.”
Gaza has been the ninth worst-affected state by explosive violence over the past decade. From 2011-2020, AOAV recorded 5,700 deaths and injuries from explosive violence in Gaza – of these, 5,107 (90%) were civilians. As a consequence of previous military assaults and blockades, much of the Gaza strip’s infrastructure and housing has also been severely degraded: a recent Human Rights Watch report documented the long term effects of explosive weapons use in Gaza, which has “destroyed tens of thousands of structures and critical infrastructure, including homes, hospitals, schools, and Gaza’s only power plant, causing considerable harm to civilian life that has lasted for years afterward”. The use of explosive weapons is also one of the main catalysts of forced displacement globally, as civilians flee for safety, but for Palestinians in Gaza such flight is often impossible due to longstanding tight movement restrictions.
Every year tens of thousands of civilians are killed and injured around the world 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. Unexploded ordnance pose on ongoing threat to civilians during and after hostilities have ended and impedes the safe return of refugees and displaced persons.
The widespread bombing and shelling in the Gaza strip and Israel highlights the needs for new international standards against the use heavy explosive weapons in populated areas. 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, such as mortars, that may land anywhere within a wide area of the intended target. When used in cities and towns where there are concentrations of civilians, the risk of harm to civilians is greatest.
Over 100 countries have recognised the harm caused to civilians from the use of explosive weapons in cities, towns and other populated areas. States are in the process of negotiating a political declaration that would contain new international standards on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, under the leadership of Ireland. INEW calls upon states to include a commitment to avoid use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas in the future political declaration.
 "Israel-Gaza violence: death toll rises as UN envoy warns over escalation", The Guardian, 11 May 2021.
 “Dozens dead as Israel and Hamas escalate aerial bombardments”, Reuters, 12 May 2021.
March 15 marks the tenth anniversary of the conflict in Syria, and the humanitarian crisis is only getting worse. Humanity & Inclusion is working in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt with Syrians who have lost everything. Humanitarian needs are acute, while access to the people who need help remains a major challenge. Even when the conflict ends, rebuilding Syria will take generations. The level of destruction of infrastructure, contamination by explosive devices—an unprecedented level in the history of mine clearance—and the scale of population displacement pose enormous challenges.
Silver Spring, Maryland—After a decade of war, continuous bombing and shelling in populated areas have had appalling humanitarian consequences: thousands of deaths and life-changing injuries, psychological trauma, families torn apart, forced displacement, destruction of essential infrastructure like hospitals, schools, water lines, and bridges, and ever worsening poverty. Humanity & Inclusion is working in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt with Syrians who have lost everything and need humanitarian aid to survive.
At least one-third of homes in Syria are damaged or destroyed. Major cities like Raqqa, Aleppo and Homs have been largely destroyed by extensive and intense use of explosive weapons. 80% of the city of Raqqa was destroyed in 2017. Massive, continuous bombing and shelling has left millions of people without homes and forced them to flee.
The level of contamination is unprecedented in the history of mine clearance: contamination from unexploded ordnance, such as bombs, rockets and mortars that did not explode on impact, and other explosive hazards such as landmines and booby traps, is so severe that it will take generations to make Syria safe. 11.5 million people are currently living in areas contaminated by explosive hazards.
"Syria is a special case in terms of contamination for two reasons,” says Emmanuel Savage, Director of Armed Violence Reduction at Humanity & Inclusion. “After a decade of conflict, Syrian soil is contaminated by a complete spectrum of explosive weapons including unexploded bombs, explosive remnants and booby traps, and improvised mines. The second reason lies in the type of areas affected: mostly urban areas. We know from experience that explosive remnants in urban areas are particularly difficult to clear, amid thousands of tons of rubble. We also have to think about how to support individuals. Syrians have experienced the horrors of war, and they need physical and psychological support. Physical trauma such as amputations, brain and spinal cord injuries, but also psychological trauma need specific care. I think it will take at least two generations to rebuild Syria."
Contamination with explosive remnants of war is one of the significant obstacles preventing the safe return of refugees and displaced persons in Syria. It will also be a major obstacle to rebuilding Syria, its economy and social fabric. Rebuilding cities and infrastructure in Syria will require complex and expensive clearance operations.
"Massive bombing and shelling of cities is a deadly cocktail for civilians," says Jeff Meer, U.S. Executive Director of Humanity & Inclusion. "The human suffering caused by bombing population centers must stop. In Syria, but also Iraq and Yemen, we witness the disastrous consequences for civilians over and over. Decisive policy victories against landmines (1997) and cluster munitions (2008) give us hope—we have a historic opportunity to clearly say ‘stop’ to the bombing of places where populations are concentrated. The U.S. and other States must commit to the current diplomatic process for an international agreement against the use of explosive weapons where civilians live. We must all recognize the indiscriminate human suffering caused when explosive weapons are deployed in populated areas, as well as the lasting effects. Older principles of international humanitarian law do not adequately address this challenge."
Acute humanitarian needs
As violence continues across Syria, over 13 million people need humanitarian assistance—more than 6 million of whom are children. Access to basic services (health, food, clean water, shelter, etc.) remains an absolute priority.
Within Syria, 6.7 million people are displaced—many of whom have moved multiples times. This is the largest internally displaced population in the world. Nearly a quarter of people have disabilities—close to double the global average. 5.6 million Syrians are refugees in neighboring countries and heavily rely on humanitarian aid.
The current humanitarian crisis is aggravated by an acute economic crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, making an already severe situation worse. Humanitarians struggle to access all communities in need and face mounting security risks: in 2020, there were 65 recorded attacks on aid workers, nearly half of those attacked were killed. It is estimated that there have been at least 100,000 COVID-19 cases in Government of Syria-controlled territory alone.
As health infrastructure has been destroyed by bombing, health services are unable to cope with this additional health crisis. Only half of hospitals and primary healthcare centers across Syria are fully functional.
- 13 million-plus people need humanitarian assistance, more than 6 million of whom are children
- 6.7 million people are displaced inside the country – often multiple times. This is the largest internally displaced population in the world
- Nearly 1/4 of people have disabilities, which is nearly double the global average
- 11.5 million people live in areas contaminated by explosive hazards
- 5.6 million Syrians refugees living in neighboring countries
- 1.8 million Syrians have been helped by Humanity & Inclusion in 6 countries since 2012
Humanity & Inclusion experts available for comment
- Amy Rodgers, Humanitarian Policy Coordinator
- Federico Dessi, Regional Director of the Middle East Programs
- Caroline Duconseille, Country Manager in Lebanon
- Rosanna Rosengren-Klitgaart, Country Manager in Jordan
Relevant Humanity & Inclusion reports on the impact of explosive weapons
- The use of explosive weapons in populated area: it is time to act, 2018, Briefing paper
- The Waiting List. Addressing the immediate and long-term needs of victims of explosive weapons in Syria, 2019, Report
- The Long-Term Impact of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas in Yemen, 2020, Study.
- A Persistent Danger: Unexploded Ordnance in Populated Areas, 2020, Briefing Paper
- Everywhere the bombing followed us, 2017, Report
These reports are being used to inform the ongoing international negotiations between states towards a political declaration to avoid the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
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 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. Humanity & Inclusion 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 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize in 2011. Humanity & Inclusion acts and campaigns in places where “living in dignity” is no easy task.
Mohamad is one of thousands of Syrian bombing victims. Paralyzed from the waist down after an explosion in 2012, he has learned to live again, with help from Humanity & Inclusion.
Mohamad was returning home after work down a crowded street when an explosion suddenly ripped through the air. This is his story, in his own words:
I woke up four or five hours later in a field hospital. The first words I heard from the doctors were: “He has a one-in-a-hundred chance of survival.”
I had surgery, thank God. I lay on my back for six months before I came to Jordan for essential medical care.
My hip broke as I was being treated and I developed pelvic calcification. My health was very bad at the time. I was very depressed as well.
I’ve had rehabilitation care and I was given a medical device, a bed, a wheelchair, a walking frame, casts, and a special chair for the bathroom. They’re a big help. But it’s hard to find yourself in a wheelchair overnight. I had problems accepting my new condition. But I've come to terms with it now.
Life was different before my injury. It was great. I worked in the stone-dressing business. I used to go out with my friends. I enjoyed swimming. I also liked riding my motorbike.
I felt I had to work hard to overcome my handicap. I followed a training course in crafts–assembling accessories, creating perfumes, and making candles–and then became a trainer myself. We recently organized an exhibition at the Arabela shopping center in Irbid. We also visited several bazaars. It was a great experience.
Humanity & Inclusion and the Syria crisis
Since the organization began its response to the Syria crisis in 2012, Humanity & Inclusion has helped 1.8 million Syrians in six countries through emergency rehabilitation, psychological support, and supplying prosthetics and other assistive devices. As of December 2020, Humanity & Inclusion provided 14,000 prosthetics or orthotics to Syrians and conducted rehabilitation sessions with 180,000 people. Learn more about our work and the Syria crisis.