The Impact of War on Civilians

Civilians bear the brunt of wars today, with the majority of casualties in present day conflicts being non-combatants. The lives of civilians are also affected by a number of other factors, with the damage often persisting long after war has ended.

  • More than 30 million people are currently displaced by war. This figure includes refugees and internally displaced persons (IDP’s). These people, the majority of whom are women and children, are at high risk of suffering violence, illness and malnutrition.
  • Landmines and unexploded ordnance such as cluster bombs claim at least 15 thousand casualties each year, mostly civilians. These weapons kill and maim indiscriminately, remaining dormant in the ground until they are triggered. They may cause deaith, loss of limbs, shrapnel injuries and burns.
  • Armed conflicts have significant consequences for the environment and long-term health of civilians. The loss of infrastructure, such as water supplies and sanitation, affects civilian populations long after the war has ended, as does the use of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. The Royal Society (UK) has stated that civilians and soldiers exposed to depleted uranium, used in armour piercing weapons, face an increased risk of developing lung cancer and kidney disease.