Ukraine surpassed Syria as the country with the highest casualties resulting from cluster munitions in 2022, a new report revealed.

In its annual report for 2022, the Cluster Munition Monitor, a coalition of groups advocating against the use of cluster munitions, found there were 916 cluster-munition casualties recorded last year in Ukraine, 890 of which were from attacks and 26 of which were from remnants.

The group noted, however, it is likely some casualties from other attacks have gone unrecorded.

Syria had previously experienced the highest annual casualty total of any country each year from 2012 to 2021, it added.

The group on Tuesday reported a record total of 1,172 new cluster munition casualties across eight countries in 2022, marking the highest annual number recorded of people killed and people injured by the weapons since the coalition began publishing reports in 2010.

The report concluded that the “alarming finding” can be attributed largely to the use of cluster munitions during the Russian war in Ukraine, noting that the casualties are primarily caused by Russia’s use of cluster munitions, but that Ukraine also used cluster munitions, resulting in civilian deaths and injuries.

Of the total casualties reported in 2022, 987 were caused by cluster munition attacks while 185 resulted from cluster munition remnants. In 2021, there were no casualties recorded from cluster-munition attacks. All 149 casualties reported that year resulted from cluster-munitions remnants. 

Additionally, almost all of the cluster munition casualties reported last year — 95 percent — were civilians, according to the report, which added that children also remain the most susceptible, accounting for 71 percent of all cluster munition casualties where the age was recorded.

Discussion on cluster munitions resurfaced in recent months, after the United States announced it would transfer cluster munitions to Ukraine, responding to repeated requests from Ukraine, which claimed it was running through its artillery ammunition at a rapid pace and needed cluster munitions to defeat Russia in the counteroffensive. In exchange, Ukraine pledged to take extra steps to avoid areas close to civilians.

Cluster munitions are highly controversial weapons, containing multiple bomblets that disperse over a large area, making them highly effective at attacking formations of enemy armies and tanks, but also making them dangerous to civilians. More than 100 countries have banned their usage, not including the United States, Russia or Ukraine.

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