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Bombing destroys essential infrastructures and make countries unable to respond the COVID pandemic

Explosive weapons

While the global pandemic has exacerbated the human suffering caused by bombing in populated areas, it has halted the international negotiations for the adoption of a political declaration on the issue. States gathered online at the discussion "Protecting Civilians in Urban Warfare" on September 7 to keep the momentum and revive the diplomatic process.

Demining operations conducted by HI near Misrata, Libya, in 2019.

Demining operations conducted by HI near Misrata, Libya, in 2019. | ©T. Mayer / HI

HI Advocacy Director Anne Héry explains the outcomes of the meeting:

The purpose of the meeting

Ireland organised one conference on September 7 to revive the diplomatic process to elaborate an international political declaration against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. This Ireland-led process that started in October 2019 was temporally disrupted by the COVID pandemic. So far, more than 70 States were involved in the draft of the international political declaration. The next step should be a final round of negotiations expected to take place before the end of the year. Then, the international political declaration should be proposed to States for endorsement during a conference in Dublin next year. We welcome the ongoing efforts led by Ireland which lead this diplomatic process to develop such a declaration.

Bombing and shelling makes countries unable to respond the COVID-19 pandemic

The current COVID 19 pandemic shows how bombing and shelling are devastating for civilians: In countries torn by war and explosive violence like Syria, Libya, Yemen, health care systems already severely disrupted by bombing face huge challenges in providing the medical assistance and preventive measures needed to overcome the virus. The use of heavy explosive weapons damages and destroys hospitals and other medical facilities, as well as power and water supply lines and sanitation networks. As preventing the spread of the virus is key, lack of access to clean water and electricity makes it impossible to implement basic hygiene measures such as hand-washing and to access to critical internet-based public health information. Conflict-affected countries are not in capacity to contain the current pandemic.

States must stand against the most destructive weapons in populated areas.

So far, more than 70 contributed to the draft of the political declaration. Arguments and positions are diverse. But we think there is a minimum standard on which States have to agree on. States should unconditionally support not to use the most destructive weapons in cities, as UN and ICRC called last year: Many explosive weapons with wide area effects used in urban warfare today were originally designed for open battlefields: Inaccurate weapons put entire neighbourhoods at risk, multiple rockets system simultaneously fire over a wide area, munitions produce large blast and fragmentation effects...

UN Secretary-General and the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) appealed in 2019 to warring parties not to use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas, because of their devastating impact on civilians.

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