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Gaza: Urgent call for states to endorse the international declaration to Stop Bombing Civilians

Press Release | London, 15th November 2023, 16:00 GMT

  • On 18th November 2022, the international political declaration to protect civilians against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas was endorsed by 83 states, including the UK and US.
  • One year on, Humanity & Inclusion (HI) is calling on all states to endorse the declaration and implement its commitments.
  • The impact on civilians of the conflict between Palestinian armed groups and Israel highlights the importance of this international agreement.
  • HI is calling for a ceasefire in Gaza to protect civilians.

Since 7th October, over 11,000 Palestinians and over 1,200 Israeli civilians have been killed, and over 27,000 Palestinian and over 5,400 Israeli civilians have been injured in the conflict – with the overwhelming majority of deaths of Palestinians from bombing. Health infrastructure has also been destroyed or damaged. The escalation is a horrifying reminder of the devastation caused when heavy weapons are used in populated areas, as described by HI’s teams in Gaza in the organisation’s latest report.

The International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW), of which HI is a founding member, is calling on both Israel and Palestinian armed groups to stop the use of heavy explosive weapons in populated areas, due to the high risk of harm to civilians.

HI is calling on more states to endorse the international political agreement to protect civilians against the bombing of populated areas. The 83 states who did endorse it last year, which include the UK and US, need to ensure its provisions are implemented and respected by others.

More than 80% of the casualties are civilians

Today’s armed conflicts increasingly play out in urban areas. Worldwide, more than 14,900 civilians were killed or injured by explosive violence between January and September 2023, according to Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) monthly reports. These very large numbers are due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and growing explosive weapons use in conflicts in Myanmar, Somalia, Syria, etc. During this period, when explosive weapons were used in populated areas, more than 80% of the casualties were civilians.

George Graham, HI UK Executive director says:

“Last year, governments including the UKendorsed a milestone international agreement against bombing in populated areas. As catastrophe unfolds in Gaza, those states now urgently need to implement its provisions, putting restrictions on the use of the most destructive weapons in populated areas, using all their diplomatic means to secure rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access to affected areas, and scaling up assistance to the conflict-affected population.”

Danger does not disappear when the fighting ends

Cities such as Mosul (Iraq), Raqqa (Syria), Mariupol (Ukraine), Hodeida (Yemen) and Gaza City (occupied Palestinian territories) have been destroyed or damaged by heavy artillery use. The use of explosive weapons has damaged critical infrastructure such as schools and hospitals, caused large-scale population displacements, prevented humanitarian actors from accessing affected areas, killed and injured scores of civilians and left behind explosive ordnance contamination that will endanger lives for years to come. The long-term effects on civilians are devastating.

“Every day, we see the long-term humanitarian impact of the bombing and shelling of urban areas that has been going on for years in Syria. Major cities like Homs, Aleppo, Raqqa, etc., have been massively bombed, causing death, the destruction of vital infrastructure and the displacement of thousands of families. In Raqqa, six years after the armed violence, the local population is still exposed to the danger of explosive ordnance. HI’s deminers remove and defuse explosive items every day, but it will take decades to make the area safe.”

says Myriam Abord-Hugon, Humanity & Inclusion Country Manager in Syria.

Call to Stop Bombing Civilians

HI is calling on states to stop using the most destructive weapons in towns and cities and to provide assistance to conflict-affected civilians. Parties to conflicts must collect and share data on explosive weapons use and provide more transparency on the impact of their military operations in order to improve understanding of the humanitarian consequences and enable rapid humanitarian responses to the populations in need.

HI is also calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and safe passage. The safety of civilians and civilian infrastructure must be prioritised. A long-lasting ceasefire is the only way to prevent further deaths, injuries, and human suffering, and escalation of the conflict in the region.


George Graham, Executive Director of Humanity & Inclusion UK is available for interviews. George has been to Gaza in the past and is an established campaigner on the impact of conflict on civilians, and particularly people with disabilities.

Campaigns against landmines, cluster munitions and urban bombing

This level of harm to civilians should be unacceptable. HI’s previous campaigns show how much effort is needed to inspire change, but also the great difference that ordinary people’s voices can make. Over the past 30 years, HI has gathered people together to campaign against both anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions. These two campaigns led to the signing of the Ottawa Mine Ban Convention (1997) and the Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions (2008) and resulted in a global decrease in the number of casualties from these weapons.

For years, HI, has been calling for increased protection of civilians in urban warfare. HI’s ‘Stop Bombing Civilians’ petition, signed by 216,719 people in the UK, was handed in to 10 Downing Street in October 2022. HI played an active role in the 3-year diplomatic process between 2019 and 2022 that led to the Dublin conference in November 2022 and the endorsement of the international agreement to protect civilians against the bombing of populated areas.

On April 2023, HI and its INEW partners published ‘Explosive Weapons Monitor 2021-2022: Two years of harm to civilians from the use of explosive weapons’. This was the first global report on the bombing and shelling of towns and cities. Its publication came six months after the Dublin conference. The Explosive Weapons Monitor is an annual publication.

HI’s work supporting vulnerable people impacted by conflict around the world

HI is supporting people living in places that are or have been impacted by conflict such as in Gaza, Ukraine Syria, Yemen or Iraq. Our teams are providing:

  • Rehabilitation care
  • Psychosocial support – including recreational activities for children to help them process trauma
  • Distribution of assistive devices
  • Explosive weapons risk education sessions
  • Basic needs distributions: cooking/hygiene kits
  • HI’s demining team are clearing lands contaminated by explosive remnants or war

How to donate 

Humanity & Inclusion has launched an urgent Gaza Crisis fundraising appeal:


Phone: 0330 555 0156

SMS: Text GAZA to 70450 to donate £10 to Humanity & Inclusion UK

Or send a donation in the post to: Gaza Crisis Appeal, Humanity & Inclusion UK, 9 Rushworth Street, LONDON, SE1 0RB

Contact our
UK Press Team

Marlène Manning, Media Officer
Email: [email protected]
Mobile: +44 (0)7934 60 29 61
Tel.: +44 (0)870 774 3737