04 April 2017
Stop cluster munitions use in Syria and Yemen
Marking 4 April, the International Mine Awareness Day
An unexploded M77 DPICM submunition found in Dughayj village, northern Yemen, after a cluster munition attack in June or July 2015. © 2015 Ole Solvang/Human Rights Watch
4 April, the day for International Mine Awareness, is marked by the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) and its members around the world to help put an end to the suffering and casualties caused by cluster munitions.
Unfortunately, while 4 April is being observed by the international community to protect civilians from dangers of cluster munitions, mines and explosive remnants of war, more civilians in Syria and Yemen fall victim to the new use of cluster munitions. A coalition led by Saudi Arabia has been using cluster munitions in Yemen for over two years. Since 2012 cluster munitions have been used by Syrian government and since early 2016 by the Syrian-Russian joint military operation in Syria.
It is outrageous to see that in spite of civilian casualties, the globally banned cluster munitions continue to be used in Yemen and Syria. We urge the international community to speak up against the continued use of cluster munitions in Yemen and Syria.
CMC members all over the world take action to mark the Mine Awareness Day, today. To name a fewexamples: In Afghanistan national campaigners are conducting media work and public awareness campaigns encouraging government and mine action actors to stay committed to finish landmine clearance by 2023, and to increase assistance to mine victims and persons with disabilities. The Italian campaign, in collaboration with the National Association of civil war victims, are conveneing a high level conference “Mine action: an investment in Humankind” at the Palazzo Giustiniani to highlight the needs of landmine victims and the importance of mine action. The conference’s keynote speaker is Mr. Alberto Cairo, a well-known humanitarian practitioner from the International Committee of the Red Cross’s Afghanistan program.
Campaigners in Belarus are holding round-table discussions with government authorities and civil society and organizing cultural and sports events to urge the government to complete destruction of stockpiled landmines and to raise awareness among students and public. In Senegal the Association of landmine survivors are providing free consultations for mine survivors in an affected district (Lyndiane) to facilitate access to medical care. Campaigners in Sweden published an article and are sending out a press release urging the government of Sweden to increase its support to mine action.
To promote implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and accession to the Mine Ban Treaty, national campaigners in Lebanon have been holding a series of events including media work, mine risk education marathon, puppet show with students of public schools, rally, football game with participation of survivors in different locations and in collaboration with government and other mine action actors. In Georgia, national campaigners plan to mark the Mine Awareness Day by holding a training session for cluster munition and mine survivors in Tbilisi. The event aims to provide an opportunity for survivors to discuss socio-economic inclusion challenges and ways to overcome them and also to share their stories.
Campaigners in Pakistan are reaching out to media outlets and are conducting a social media campaign to raise awareness on impact of landmines and to urge the government of Pakistan to join the Mine Ban Treaty. In Vietnam national campaigners are holding a workshop to build capacities among landmine/cluster munitions/UXO victims and persons with disabilities in Quang Binh, a cluster munition affected province. The workshop will focus on importance of participation, peer support and it aims to improve business management skills among victims and persons with disabilities.
On 12 April Sudanese campaigners will join national mine action authorities to hold a big mine awareness event at the Friendship Hall in Khartoum. Cambodian campaigners joined the mine action authority to mark mine awareness day on 12 February where some 2,000 persons attended the event in Banteay Meanchey province. Somalian campaigners will mark the Mine Awareness Day together with the national mine action authority. Campaigners will encourage the Somali government to submit its transparency report on implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty and Convention on Cluster Munitions.
In spite of difficult situation in Yemen due to conflict and use of cluster munitions and landmines, national campaigners in Aden, Lahj and Abyan have been working to mark the Mine Awareness Day by providing mine risk education to students in six schools and by engaging them in awareness activities, in collaboration with national mine action authorities. National campaigners in Myanmar in partnerships with some of the international mine clearance operators, are preparing for a big mine awareness event to encourage mine clearance, assistance to victims and accession to the Mine Ban Treaty and Convention on Cluster Munitions by the government of Myanmar.
UN Secretary-General António Gueterres’s message for 4 April highlights the broader impact of mine action in “development” and urges the international community to consider mine action “at the top of the international agenda when negotiating peace”. On 8 December 2005, the UN General Assembly declared that 4 April of each year shall be observed as the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. 4 April’s 2017 Theme is ‘Needs driven. People Centred’.
119 nations have joined the global ban, the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. Every country in the world can and should join the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It is a question of political will and placing a priority on the protection of civilians over outdated and indiscriminate weapons. All States not party should take action towards ratification or accession of the convention and participate in the Seventh Meeting of States Parties of the Convention on Cluster Munitions taking place from 4 to 6 September 2017 in Geneva.