Civilians should never be the target. But when explosive weapons are used in populated areas, 90% of casualties are civilians.
To pay tribute to the thousands of civilians harmed or killed from conflict, Mines Action Canada hosted an event with Humanity and Inclusion and the Canadian Landmine Foundation to pay respect to the unknown civilian. The event was held on December 4th, and included a moment of silence and flower laying processions for all civilians lost from conflict and a panel which discussed how Canada can help minimize civilian harm.
This event comes at a time where civilians are being targeted at an overwhelmingly disturbing rate in Gaza. In the last two months, at least 16,248 Palestinians have been killed and 43,616 have been injured by Israel, at least two thirds of which are civilians and half children. These figures are as of December 6th, and they are continuously and alarmingly increasing. The Explosive Weapons on Populated Areas (EWIPA) Declaration was just signed last year. Canada has signed this Declaration which means it needs to condemn any and all use of explosive weapons in populated areas, including by Israel. Professor Jennifer Welsh, panelist at the event, final point to the audience was "Canada is not always out in front. It was slow to sign onto the [EWIPA] Declaration. It was not taking a lead. Why?" Mines Action Canada agrees that Canada is not always a leader in disarmament. Canada needs to speak out and call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza because explosive weapons in populated areas, like what we are seeing in Gaza, have been proven to have at least a 90% civilian casualty rate which is absolutely unacceptable.
If you want to take action against Israel's use of explosive weapons, you can reach out to your MP to call for an immediate ceasefire. A useful tool for doing so is the International Network on Explosive Weapon's Open Letter, because it is directed at States who have signed the EWIPA Declaration which includes Canada. You can also donate to help Palestinian civilians receive humanitarian aid. Some examples include UNICEF Canada, the Humanitarian Coalition, Canadian Red Cross, and our partner Humanity and Inclusion who supports persons with disabilities in Palestine. There are many more organizations who are providing humanitarian relief to Palestinians, so we encourage you to look into more organizations as well.
As Nujeen Mustafa, disability and refugee activist from Syria, said at the Unknown Civilian event: "The most important thing is to remind people what their job is, what they are actually doing, what the final destination is: to protect innocent lives that are being lost to no fault of their own. We should do more to make starting a conflict cost more, to make it painful, to make it hurt when you violate civilians. We need to attach stigma to the violation of human rights and put pressure where it hurts."