When Real Madrid play Sevilla FC in the UEFA Super Cup in the Norwegian city of Trondheim on Tuesday 9 August, the UEFA Foundation for Children will join Handicap International in condemning the use of explosive weapons in populated areas in recent and current conflicts worldwide. During the opening ceremony, the captains of both teams will be escorted by two Afghan and Syrian children with disabilities, now refugees in Norway. Together, they will carry the UEFA Europa League and UEFA Champions League cups onto the pitch.
The UEFA Foundation for Children is lending its support to Handicap International, an organisation that ensures the rights of people with disabilities are upheld worldwide and promotes their full inclusion in society. The foundation is also backing the organisation’s latest international campaign to stop the bombing of civilians, which causes large numbers of casualties, many of them children. At half-time, a video featuring players from the match will relay the Stop Bombing Civilians! message and condemn the unbearable threat currently hanging over millions of civilians worldwide. This solemn moment will remind people that most victims of bomb attacks are civilians and underline the urgent need to protect them by applying conventions currently in force.
This event will mark the launch of Handicap International’s public campaign on the internet and social media. Everyone will be invited to support the campaign by signing the Stop bombing civilians! petition on the www.stop-bombing-civilians.org website.
Bombing civilians is not war - it’s a crime
Nearly 44,000 people were maimed or killed in 2015 by explosive weapons worldwide. Of those, 76%1 were civilians. When these weapons were used in populated areas, 92%2 of victims were civilians.
Used on a massive scale in urban areas in recent armed conflicts, explosive weapons (missiles, rockets, artillery shells, aerial bombs, cluster bombs, etc.) cause tens of thousands of new civilian casualties every year. These weapons cause suffering and serious injuries including amputation, serious disabilities and deep psychological trauma. They destroy homes, schools and hospitals. Following the end of a conflict, weapons that have not exploded on impact pose a threat not just to people’s safety but also present an obstacle to a country’s reconstruction. As a result, they force people into extreme poverty.
International humanitarian law (IHL) bans parties to a conflict from targeting civilians and civilian buildings. Any attack must respect the distinction between civilians and combatants. However, in current conflicts, belligerents regularly use explosive weapons with a capacity to impact a wide area in cities and populated areas. This unacceptable practice, which kills and maims large numbers of civilians, is a violation of key provisions of IHL.
1. and 2. Unacceptable Harm – Monitoring Explosive Violence 2015 (AOAV).
Marlene Sigonney, Handicap International UK
Tel: +44 (0)870 774 3737
After 30 years of campaigning against anti-personnel mines and cluster bombs, which led to the signing of the Ottawa mine ban convention (1997) and the Oslo convention on cluster munitions (2008), Handicap International has worked since 2011, to mobilise the international community against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. It is currently involved in a large-scale information and awareness-raising campaign against these weapons.
The UEFA Foundation for Children
The Foundation was set up in April 2015, reflecting UEFA’s desire to play a more active role in society and communities. The foundation uses sport, and football in particular, to support humanitarian projects linked to children’s rights. The foundation aims to provide support in the areas of health and education, as well as promoting access to sporting activity, facilitating children’s personal development and fostering the integration of minorities. It also works to help safeguard children’s rights.