02 August 2012

Campaign call as important now as ever

(London, 2 August 2012): Yesterday, a global day of action marking the second anniversary of the Convention on Cluster Munitions becoming international law, dozens of great campaign actions by CMC members took place all over the world.From sports events to exhibitions, marches to music performances, campaigners demanded an end to the suffering that cluster munitions cause. Campaigners from around the world called on all states to join the lifesaving Convention on Cluster Munitions, which bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of these weapons and places obligations on countries to clear affected areas, assist victims and destroy stockpiles.The importance of campaigners’ calls, and the indiscriminate and deadly nature of these weapons, was poignantly highlighted by the tragic news of the death of two Serbian soldiers killed yesterday morning while clearing cluster bombs in the south of the country.Like the CMC’s spokesperson, Serbian cluster bomb survivor Branislav Kapetanovic, these two latest victims were clearing unexploded cluster bombs, a remaining legacy of the NATO bombing campaign during the 1998 – 1999 Kosovo conflict, when one of the weapons exploded and they were caught in the blast. Unlike Branislav, who lives today with the devastating injuries the accident caused, they did not survive.Branislav made this compelling statement in response to the sad news: "This tragedy demands urgent action. It is absurd that after all these years Serbia still hasn’t joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions. We cannot allow new casualties from this weapon. Every unexploded cluster bomb can cause an accident, every cluster bomb stored can be used some day. Only by destroying them and banning them entirely we prevent future suffering".Serbia has not yet joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Large areas of land in the country – an estimated 15 square kilometres according to latest figures – are still contaminated with unexploded cluster bombs following the Kosovo conflict. Thousands of people live in the immediate vicinity of this land.Serbia also has a stockpile of cluster munitions. The precise size and composition of the stockpile is not known, but it is thought to be large, including air-delivered cluster bombs, ground-launched rockets, and artillery projectiles. Jane’s Information Group lists Serbia as possessing BL-755 cluster bombs.