Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) just put a fine new report entitled UNACCEPTABLE HARM: Monitoring explosive violence in 2015.
A nice feature of the report is a detailed and well-written section on methodology that describes very well what the report does and is up-front about its limitations. Indeed, there is a lot on methodology throughout the report, a nice contrast with some academics who try to hide their methodology.
There are a number of interesting findings such as:
- More than 90% of the people documented by the report as casualties (i.e., killed or injured) in attacks with explosives in populated areas were civilians.
- Almost 90% of civilian casualties documented in the report occurred in populated areas.
Together these mean that, when used in populated areas, explosives harm overwhelmingly civilians and that the primary threat to civilians is in these populated areas. Indeed, there is a campaign against the use of explosives in populated areas.
Another finding is that attacks with explosives seem to be getting more devastating:
- AOAV records a 67% rise in recorded casualties in suicide attacks while the number of such recorded incidents hardly increased.
- Similarly, AOAV found a 57% increase in civilian casualties in air-launched explosions on the back 32% fewer recorded incidents.
There were ten huge incidents with 200+ civilian casualties. Four of these were in Yemen although Syria came out with the most civilian casualties in explosions overall.
One thing I find odd about the report is its relentless emphasis on civilians only. The data include combatants but the report doesn’t really try to come up with interesting facts about combatant victims of explosive violence. I’m fine with the emphasis on civilians but it doesn’t have to be near-total.
In any case, this is a great report and I hope it gets wide attention.