Campaigners take action to protect civilians from bombing

London, 3rd December 2015. Campaigners around the UK are taking action to protect civilians living in conflict zones by calling for an end to the use of explosive weapons [1] in populated areas. In Syria alone over 2 million children are at risk, living in areas highly affected by the use of explosive weapons [2]. The actions coincide with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities today, 3rd December.

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Every year, tens of thousands of civilians are killed and injured by the use of explosive weapons. When explosive weapons are used in populated areas like towns and cities, a shocking 92% of victims are civilians [3]. The use of explosive weapons in populated areas is a violation of International Humanitarian Law.

Aleema Shivji, Director of Handicap International UK, explains, “Urgent action is needed to protect civilians from explosive weapons, especially in Syria where 2 million children are at risk. All too often amputees and other injured people struggle to get proper rehabilitation care and can end up isolated and forgotten. The UK should take the lead by committing to end the use of explosive weapons in populated areas."

Explosive weapons cause serious injuries and amputations, leading to severe disabilities and deep psychological trauma. They destroy homes, schools, and hospitals. After a conflict, the unexploded weapons left behind are a danger to the civilian population and a barrier to reconstruction, plunging communities into poverty.

Campaigners are supporting a petition [4] calling on the UK government to commit to ending the use of explosive weapons in populated areas and to take the lead in influencing other states to do the same. They are also calling for more funds to assist the victims and to clear unexploded weapons, preventing further injuries and deaths.

The events taking place are part of the Forgotten 10 Challenge , a campaign coordinated by the charity Handicap International UK. From the 1st to 10th December 2015, local clubs, community groups and schools around the UK are organising events in support of the forgotten victims of conflict.

In Tamworth, local Soroptimists will be building a Pyramid of Shoes whilst local groups in towns from Brighton to Selby will be organising coffee mornings and displays at local libraries. School pupils from Cornwall to the Highlands will be raising awareness among their peers and students in Reading and Cheltenham will also be building Pyramids of Shoes, with each shoe representing a life or a limb lost to an explosive weapon.

To date, more than one million people have been injured in the Syrian conflict. This is creating huge needs both now and in the future, not only in terms of healthcare but also to support the inclusion of people with disabilities in education and work.

Handicap International is one of the world’s leading mine action charities. The organisation conducts weapons clearance, risk education, victim assistance or advocacy actions in 43 countries including Syria, Iraq and Ukraine.

Notes

Explosive weapons include mortars, rockets, missiles, artillery shells, air-dropped bombs, and improvised explosive devices. They also include landmines and cluster munitions, both of which are banned by international treaties.
‘The use of explosive weapons in Syria: A time bomb in the making’, 2015 (Handicap International) http://www.handicap-international.org/fileadmin/Case-Study-Syria.pdf
‘Explosive Violence Monitor’, 2014 (Action on Armed Violence)
Handicap International’s petition can be signed at www.stopexplosiveweapons.org.uk

Press contact 

Tom Shelton 
Email: tom.shelton[at]hi-uk.org 
Mobile: 44 (0)7508 810 520 
Tel: 44 (0)870 774 3737 
www.handicap-international.org.uk 
www.twitter.com/hi_uk

About Handicap International 

Handicap International is an international aid organisation working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. Our activities include clearing landmines and unexploded ordnance, preventing mine-related accidents through education, assisting survivors with rehabilitation and inclusion and advocating for the universal recognition of the rights of people with disabilities. The organisation works in 57 countries, 43 of which are affected by mines and explosive remnants of war. Handicap International was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 as a co-founder of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

Published 03/12/15

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