Ethiopia: Impact of explosive weapons in populated areas

African Union state members and experts assess humanitarian impact of explosive weapons in populated areas

31 October 2019

Addis Ababa (ICRC) – A seminar on addressing effects of the use explosive weapons such as large bombs, mortars, missiles in populated areas opened on 31 October 2019 at the African Union (AU) headquarters. Participants in the one-day event, included member states, experts, international organizations and military practitioners, among others.

Jointly organized by the AU Defense and Security Division and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the seminar aims to assess humanitarian consequences of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA) and to deepen participants' understanding of international humanitarian law (IHL) as well as technical and military knowledge specifically in relation to EWIPA.

"The use of EWIPA cause grave harm to civilians and major disruption of services, destruction of public infrastructure such as schools and hospitals and lead to massive displacement of population," said Bruce Mokaya, the head of the ICRC delegation to the AU. "We therefore call on states to avoid using explosive weapons in populated areas and prevent non-state armed groups from acquiring and using those weapons, especially through preventing the diversion of arms and ammunition."

During the sessions, participants will focus on thematic, such as the impact of the use of EWIPA on health care and essential services, on ongoing efforts to address EWIPA's humanitarian concerns, as well as experience sharing in military policy and practices.

African states have clearly expressed their concern for the use of explosive weapons in populated areas in several forums. Representatives of 19 African countries met in Maputo, Mozambique, from 27 to 28 November 2017 to discuss this issue, and came out with the Maputo communiqué that called for the "avoidance of the use of explosive weapons". African states furthered their engagement at Vienna, during the Conference on Protecting Civilians in Urban Warfare, held from 1 to 2 October 2019 which addressed the impact on civilians of explosive weapons in urban areas.

For further information, please contact:
Yohamin Teshome, ICRC, e-mail:, tel: +251 922 566703