By Chiara Torelli
At least three people were killed and 19 injured in a Russian airstrike on schools in Novhorod-Siverskyi, Chernihiv, on Thursday 12 May. Russian troops reportedly fired several missiles at a school and boarding school, also damaging an administrative building and some residential houses in the ensuing fire.
According to the Ukrainian Education Ministry, 1, 635 educational facilities across Ukraine have been affected by bombardments and shelling, and 126 have been completely destroyed. Ukraine’s First Lady, Olena Zelenska, says “The Russians, who claim to be attacking only military facilities, are waging war against our children. In fact, they are waging war against our future.”
Since 2010, AOAV has recorded 14 incidents of Russian explosive weapons use on educational facilities, as reported in English-language media. These incidents have resulted in a reported 358 civilian casualties.
Five of the recorded incidents of Russian attacks on educational facilities took place in Syria, between 2016 and 2019, and resulted in 177 reported civilian casualties and no armed actor casualties; nine of the incidents have occurred in Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion, and have resulted in 181 civilian casualties and 9 armed actor casualties. Civilians, therefore, constitute 98% of casualties when Russia has targeted educational facilities.
Russian airstrikes account for 56% (201) of these recorded civilian casualties, missiles for 23% (82), rockets for 13% (46), shelling for 5% (18), and artillery for 3% (11) of civilian casualties.
Globally, AOAV has recorded 466 incidents of explosive weapons use on educational facilities since 2010, resulting in a reported 6, 850 civilian casualties and 514 armed actor casualties. At least 269 of the reported civilian casualties are women, and 1, 798 are children.
Non-state actors are the reported perpetrators in the case of 36% (168) of these incidents, and 32% (2, 213) of civilian casualties of explosive violence on educational facilities are attributed to non-state actors in English-language media.
IEDs (non-specific IEDs, roadside bombs, and car bombs) account for 64% (108 incidents) of incidents of explosive violence on educational facilities reportedly perpetrated by non-state actors since 2010, and 75% (1, 650) of civilian casualties of non-state violence on educational facilities can be attributed to IEDs.
States are the reported perpetrators in the case of 23% (109) of recorded incidents of explosive weapons use on educational facilities since 2010, and 36% (2, 488) of civilian casualties of explosive violence on educational facilities are attributed to state actors in English-language media. Airstrikes account for 54% (109) of reported incidents, and for 56% (1, 397) of reported civilian casualties of state-perpetrated explosive violence on educational facilities.
The worst affected territories for explosive violence on educational facilities since 2010 are Syria (2, 591 civilian casualties), Afghanistan (1, 100), Iraq (897), Pakistan (594), and Gaza (344).
AOAV’s casualty figures represent the lowest of estimations in terms of the number of people killed and injured by explosive weapon use. In an effort to quantify the explicit harm caused by specific explosive weapons, AOAV solely records incident-specific casualty figures, as reported in English-language media.
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AOAV condemns the use of violence against civilians and the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. All actors should stop using explosive weapons with wide-area effects where there is likely to be a high concentration of civilians.