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Protection Risk: Attacks on Civilians and other Unlawful Killings, and Attacks on Civilian Objects

This protection risk refers to attacks against civilians in a context of armed conflict. Attack means any act of violence against the civilian population and civilian objects, whether in offence or in defence, even if the attack does not lead to the death or injury of civilians. Unlawful attacks can result from a direct attack against civilians, an indiscriminate attack and a disproportionate attack. In International Humanitarian Law (IHL), it is fundamental to distinguish between civilians and combatants, as well as between military objectives and civilian objects. A civilian is any individual who does not belong to any of the various categories of combatants defined in the Geneva Convention and its Additional Protocols. They are persons who are not members of the armed forces and do not take part in hostilities. The civilian population comprises all persons who are civilians. While in situation of international armed conflict, it is easier to distinguish between combatants and civilians, in situations of internal armed conflicts that distinction can be less clear. Civilian objects are defined as all objects that are not military objectives. Towns, cities, villages, residential areas, dwellings, buildings, houses, schools, civilian means of transportation, hospitals, places of worship, displacement sites and cultural property are normally used for civilian purposes. and, as such, should not be subjects of attack. In doubt, they should be treated as a civilian object.