22 August 2006
CLUSTER MUNITION CASUALTIES IN LEBANON HIGHLIGHT NEED FOR GLOBAL MORATORIUM
Reports of deaths and injuries from unexploded cluster munitions used by Israel in the recent fighting in Lebanon underline the need for all governments to declare an immediate moratorium on the use of cluster munitions. Early in the conflict, the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) and others called on Israel to refrain from using cluster munitions due to the unacceptable risk to civilians both during and after attacks, but Israel refused to heed the calls. Israeli cluster munitions killed and injured civilians during attacks, as Human Rights Watch reported in the village of Blida last month, and now people devastated by war are being killed and injured as they return to their homes only to find unexploded cluster submunitions littering their houses and their land. United Nations specialists have confirmed at least 51 places in Lebanon contaminated by deadly cluster submunition “duds,” and believe the number will rise to more than 200. Bomb disposal teams destroyed 666 of these hazardous duds in their first four days of work (16-19 August). Over the same period, the UN has identified at least 22 cluster munition dud casualties thus far. Tekimiti Gilbert of the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre for South Lebanon said:“They need to be banned. They are so indiscriminate and have such a high failure rate, they cause huge problems when the fighting stops."Two children were injured when a cluster submunition exploded in the town of Ayta Alshaab on Friday 18 August 2006. The following day one child was killed and another injured by a cluster submunition in Ayan a Bil. Unfortunately, given the history of cluster munition contamination, more deaths and injuries are inevitable. The CMC calls on Israel to provide detailed information on its use of cluster munitions to facilitate clearance and urges all countries to provide assistance to the efforts already underway to deal with the deadly threat from unexploded cluster munitions and other ordnance.This predictable and avoidable harm to civilians that has again been tragically demonstrated in Lebanon makes it all the more urgent for countries to take action on cluster munitions. A growing number of countries now acknowledge the humanitarian problems of cluster munitions, with Belgium and Norway taking the lead in introducing a ban and moratorium, respectively, on their use. The CMC calls on all countries to declare a policy of no use of cluster munitions when they meet in Geneva next week to prepare the 5 year Review Conference of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW). Furthermore the CMC calls on States Parties to the CCW to seize the opportunity of the Review Conference in November to launch new negotiations on a prohibition on these inaccurate and unreliable weapons.