Handicap International is launching its “Stop Bombing Civilians” international campaign. 45,624 people were killed or injured by explosive weapons in 2016. Ninety-two percent of people killed and injured by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas are civilians. The organisation is calling on the public to support its campaign to end this unacceptable practice with the aim of pressuring States to join and support a political declaration banning the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
The campaign includes an appeal to members of the public worldwide to take selfies with the word “STOP” written on their hand to symbolise their rejection of this barbaric practice, and to post them on social media along with the hashtag #StopBombingCivilians. All published photographs will feature on the @StopBombing Instagram account. Celebrities are also supporting the campaign by posting their selfies, such as the football superstar Neymar Jr.
The Instagram @StopBombing account also features photos taken by war photographers. These photos highlight the appalling consequences of using explosive weapons in populated areas.
Handicap International is also calling on the public to sign its international petition with a target of gathering one million signatures by September 2018. This petition, which already has more than 320,000 signatures, will be presented to political decision-makers.
In Syria, Iraq, Yemen and other countries, at least 90 civilians fall victim to the use of explosive weapons in populated areas every day. The indiscriminate bombing of civilians is now common practice in present-day conflicts, as if it were acceptable or even normal.
The appalling humanitarian consequences of the bombing of civilians include serious and disabling injuries, severe psychological trauma, forced displacement and impoverishment, the destruction of vital infrastructure such as hospitals, ports and bridges, and the obliteration of the social and economic fabric of bombed areas.
But bombing civilians is not war - it’s a crime. According to international humanitarian law (IHL), combatants must take all necessary precautions to spare the civilian population, who must not be subjected to indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks. These fundamental principles of IHL must be fully defended and enforced.
“The bombing of civilians is a truly scandalous aspect of present-day conflicts. In countries including Iraq, Syria and Yemen, the casualties of bombing - often indiscriminate and, in the worst cases, targeted - are almost all civilians. Torn-apart families, ravaged cities, the mass flight of civilian populations, and the contamination of whole neighbourhoods by explosive remnants are among its appalling consequences. Our campaign aims at putting maximum pressure on States to support and join a political declaration banning the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. Only a grassroots campaign will force States to recognise the humanitarian problems caused by the bombing of civilians and to commit to ending it. Together we have the power to say stop!” says Aleema Shivji, Executive Director of Handicap International UK.
Interviews available upon request with Aleema Shivji, Executive Director of Handicap International UK.
Marlene Sigonney, Handicap International UK
media[at[hi-uk.org | +44 (0)870 774 3737 | +44 (0)7508 810 520
About Handicap International
Co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, 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.
For the past 30 years, Handicap International has been campaigning against anti-personnel mines and cluster bombs, with projects ranging from bomb clearance, risk education to teach civilians about the dangers of these weapons and victim assistance. This led to the signing of the Ottawa mine ban convention (1997) and the Oslo convention on cluster munitions (2008). Handicap International is one of six founding organisations of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and co-founder of the Cluster Munition Coalition.