LONDON – More than 40 civilians were killed every day by explosive weapons last year, according to a preliminary survey of media reports, a sharp rise on 2016 largely due to an increase in deadly airstrikes, a campaign group said Monday.
From monitoring English-language news reports up to the end of November, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) recorded 15,399 civilian deaths, an increase of 42 percent from the same period in 2016.
The civilian death toll from explosive weapons was the highest since AOAV’s records began in 2011, the group said. More than half of the deaths were caused by airstrikes, mainly in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
“When explosive air weapons are used in towns, the results are inevitable: innocent children, people will die,” said Iain Overton, executive director of AOAV.
“Civilian deaths are not just a tragedy, but the reverberating effects of this violence fuels refugee crises, convinces many to join Salafist-jihadist (militant) groups in revenge and destroys families and communities for decades.”
In Yemen’s civil war, a Saudi-led coalition is fighting the Iran-aligned Houthi movement, creating what the United Nations says is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
In Iraq, fighting raged last year as U.S.-backed Iraqi forces battled to recapture the northern city of Mosul from Islamic State militants.
Syria’s civil war, in its seventh year, has driven 11 million from their homes.
Civilian deaths in both Syria and Iraq increased by over 50 percent in 2017, while civilian deaths in Somalia surged by 200 percent due to a surge in improvised explosive device (IED) attacks by militant group al-Shabab, AOAV said.
The deadliest attack of 2017 was a truck bomb in the Somali capital of Mogadishu in October that killed more than 500 people.