LONDON - The latest global explosive violence monitor report from Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), a London-based charity, reveals a disturbing surge in civilian fatalities and incidents of explosive weapon use globally in 2023, with a 122% rise in global civilian fatalities compared to the previous year.

The data – taken by recording reputable English language media sources on explosive violence incidents - highlight a concerning escalation in modern warfare tactics, with a significant impact on civilian populations, especially in populated areas.

Key Findings

• A 122% increase in global civilian fatalities from reported explosive violence compared to 2022.
• A 69% rise in incidents of explosive weapon use.
• Air strikes were reportedly responsible for 67% of civilian fatalities.
• In towns and cities, 90% of those harmed by explosive weapons were civilians.
• Operation Swords of Iron in Gaza contributed substantially to the increase, with 37% of all civilian casualties globally attributed to it.
• 2023 saw the highest numbers of civilians harmed since AOAV’s records started in 2010, with 33,846 civilians killed or injured.
• It was also a year that saw the most weapon use, with 7,307 reported injurious incidents (the 2nd highest since 2010 being in 2022 with 4,322 incidents.

Notable Increases in Weapon Use

• Air-launched attacks increased by 226%.
• Ground-launched attacks rose by 56%.
• Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) incidents increased by 30%.

State vs. Non-State Actors

• State actors were responsible for 77% of civilian casualties from explosive weapons.
• Israel and Russia were the most injurious state actors.

Impact on Populated Areas

• 76% of explosive violence incidents were recorded in populated areas.
• 90% of people harmed in these areas were civilians.

Global Reach

• Explosive violence affected 64 countries, with the most affected regions being Gaza, Ukraine, Sudan, Myanmar, and Syria.


The explosive violence monitor, run by AOAV since 2010, collects global data on reported and injurious explosive violence incidents, as recorded by reputable English language media. We do not claim we capture all explosive violence harm, but our data serves to highlight patterns and trends in global conflicts.

Dr. Iain Overton, Executive Director of Action on Armed Violence, said of the data: “The pervasive and indiscriminate impact of explosive violence, as we've seen in 2023, is not just a matter of statistics – it's a devastating reality that shatters communities and leaves lasting scars on societies. Our data highlights a harrowing trend towards increased civilian harm, emphasising the need for international action to address the root causes and consequences of such violence.

We cannot remain passive observers; we must actively work towards a future where the use of explosive weapons in populated areas is not the norm but an unacceptable aberration."

The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs will host a conference on 23 April 2024 to review the implementation of the Political Declaration on Strengthening the Protection of Civilians from Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas. This meeting aims to address the humanitarian consequences highlighted in AOAV's report.