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Idlib: 1 million forced to flee. States must commit to the current political process to end bombing in urban areas

Press release | London, 9th March 2020, 12:00 GMT

As almost 1 million people – mainly women and children – have been forced to flee fighting and bombing in Idlib, northwest Syria, Humanity & Inclusion urges States to fully commit to the international political process aimed to better protect civilians from the use of explosive weapon in populated areas. Humanity & Inclusion also calls for an immediate ceasefire and for an end of the bombing and shelling of areas populated by civilians. This is the largest displacement of people and one of the major humanitarian crisis since the beginning of the conflict in Syria in 2011.

There is devastating civilian harm caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, on display these past few days in Idlib. This military practice is the focus of a global campaign that Humanity & Inclusion and our partners at the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) have been helping to spearhead. Humanity & Inclusion's advocacy is based on our direct experience supporting urban conflict victims. 

Key data point

When used in populated areas, explosive weapons almost exclusively harm civilians: 90% of victims are civilians (source: Action On Armed Violence (AOAV), data from 2011-2018)
* Compare that rate to civilian casualties rates in previous conflicts, and it’s clear that there is a total disregard for civilians lives: World War I (15% civilian casualties) & World War II (50% civilian casualties)

In Syria: AOAV reports that nearly 80,000 people were killed or injured by explosive weapons between 2011 and 2018, 87% of which were civilians. Working in Jordan and Lebanon Humanity & Inclusion's teams are witnessing the suffering and trauma of the Syrian population and the impossibility to return due to the inability to restore social or economic activities because of heavy contamination.  As Syria’s essential infrastructure and economy are destroyed, 80% of Syrians currently live below the poverty line.

"3 million people are trapped by fighting and bombing. Almost 1 million have already fled. After Homs in 2012, Aleppo in 2016, La Goutha in 2017, Deraa in 2018, etc., the same scenario repeatedly occurs entailing massive and repeated bombing in populated areas having tragic humanitarian consequences. Notwithstanding those attacks deliberately targeting civilians or civilian infrastructures, which constitute clear violations of International Humanitarian Law, the Syrian crisis has shown year after year the extent to which the use of explosive weapons in urban contexts have devastating consequences for civilians.” says Aleema Shivji Executive director of Humanity & Inclusion UK. 

Global, political momentum to end the bombing of civilians

In October 2019, 133 States, including the UK, met at the Vienna Conference on Protecting Civilians in Urban Warfare. This started the diplomatic process to lead to a political declaration against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. This political Declaration is due to be open for endorsement in Dublin on May 26th this year. States have a historic opportunity to make a real difference in protecting civilians from a major cause of humanitarian catastrophe in modern conflict: the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. 



Players of People’s Postcode Lottery have been supporting Humanity & Inclusion's work with injured and traumatised Syrian refugees, as well as our Stop Bombing Civilians campaign. 

Press contact

Marlene Manning, Humanity & Inclusion UK
Email: [email protected]
Tel: +44 (0)870 774 3737

About Humanity & Inclusion

Co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Humanity & Inclusion (the new name of Handicap International) is a charity working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. We work tirelessly alongside disabled and vulnerable people to help meet their basic needs, improve their living conditions and promote respect for their dignity and fundamental rights.
Humanity & Inclusion is the new name of Handicap International.

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