Campaigners from Humanity & Inclusion UK visited 10 Downing Street today to deliver the Stop Bombing Civilians petition to the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak.
An amazing 216,719 people in the UK have signed the petition, demonstrating the widespread outrage felt by the UK public about the horrific impact of bombing on civilians in conflict zones around the world. Globally, more than 600,000 people have signed.
“I want to say a huge thank you to all our supporters around the UK who have taken part in the ‘Stop Bombing Civilians’ campaign over the years, holding events, collecting petition signatures, and speaking out on social media. Today is a wonderful chance to celebrate our efforts and ensure that they make an impact by pushing the UK Government not only to endorse this agreement but to take meaningful steps to live up to the commitments it contains,” says Peter Burdin, Chair of Humanity & Inclusion UK.
90% of the people killed and injured by explosive weapons in populated areas are civilians. In addition, the large-scale use of explosive weapons in towns and cities is one of the main causes of long-term humanitarian crises, through the destruction of homes, hospitals, schools and networks supplying energy and water.
“Almost all the casualties of bombing in urban areas are ordinary people who have no responsibility for the fighting around them. It is an unacceptable evolution of modern conflict that civilians are now by far its main victims. Today, weapons such as 500kg bombs, designed for use in open battlefields and with an impact radius of several hundred metres, are being dropped on crowded cities. Such weapons show no mercy for civilians,” says George Graham, Chief Executive of Humanity & Inclusion UK.
Trustees and staff from Humanity & Inclusion UK (Ollie Thorn, Chloe Marshall, George Graham, Karen Koromah, and Peter Burdin) hand in the Stop Bombing Civilians petition at 10 Downing Street | © T. Shelton / HI
The call for the UK and all states to take action on the protection of civilians comes ahead of a meeting in Dublin on 18th November where governments will endorse a ground-breaking new international agreement on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
The UK Government has already indicated that it will endorse the agreement, joining other states, including the US, in committing to take action to better protect civilians.
“The British public is clearly appalled by the bombing of civilians – from Ukraine to Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and beyond. It’s thanks to years of pressure from campaigners around the country that the UK Government is now saying that it is ready to endorse this agreement,” adds George Graham.
“The UK plays a leading role worldwide in setting standards for conduct in warfare, so this is a milestone moment. The next steps are to implement the commitments in the Declaration across Whitehall and the Armed Forces, and to encourage partners and allies to follow the UK’s lead in championing this new approach.”
© T. Shelton / HI
Humanity & Inclusion’s ‘Stop Bombing Civilians’ petition calls on the UK and all States worldwide to:
- Publicly commit to end the use of explosive weapons with wide-area effects in populated areas;
- Fully implement the treaties banning landmines and cluster munitions without delay and encourage non-signatory states to sign them;
- Contribute to assisting the victims, clearing weapons in affected zones, and preventing further injuries and deaths.
The group handing in the petition at Downing Street included:
- Peter Burdin, Chair of Humanity & Inclusion UK, and the BBC’s former Africa Bureau Chief
- Chloe Marshall, Vice-Chair and Solicitor
- Ollie Thorn, Board member and expert on diversity and inclusion in employment who has competed for the British military and Great Britain in para-alpine ski racing
- George Graham, Chief Executive
- Karen Koromah, Fundraising Officer and campaigner.
About Humanity & Inclusion
Humanity & Inclusion (HI) is an independent charity working alongside disabled and vulnerable people in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster.
Operating in 60 countries, our activities include humanitarian relief, physical rehabilitation and psychologial support, explosive ordnance clearance, and risk education for families in conflict zones.
HI is a co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize as a founding member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which led to the signing of the Mine Ban Treaty.