Posted by: sean | November 7, 2006

Cluster bombs in Lebanon

Saturday afternoon, I walked downtown and saw a event organized by groups like Handicap International against cluster bombs. There were pictures of cluster bomb casualties and actual cluster bombs, which ranged in citrus-fruit size (I think it’s only apt to use the same family of fruits as we use to describe tumors) from small oranges to grapefruits. Since the war, on average, two people a day have died from unexploded cluster munitions. According to UN estimates, there remain up to a million unexploded bomblets in the south of Lebanon.

A fried of mine sent me an article by George Monbiot on how the UK and the US are doing their best to make sure that cluster munitions stay legal:

In Geneva today, at the new review of the conventional weapons treaty, the British government will be using the full force of its diplomacy to ensure that civilians continue to be killed, by blocking a ban on the use of cluster bombs. Sweden, supported by Austria, Mexico and New Zealand, has proposed a convention making their deployment illegal, like the Ottawa treaty banning anti-personnel landmines. But the UK, working with the US, China and Russia, has spent the past week trying to prevent negotiations from being opened. Perhaps this is unsurprising. Most of the cluster bombs dropped during the past 40 years have been delivered by Britain’s two principal allies – the US and Israel – in the “war on terror”. And the UK used hundreds of thousands of them during the two Gulf wars.

…A report published last week by the independent organisation Handicap International estimates that around 100,000 people have been killed or wounded by cluster bombs. Of the known casualties, 98% are civilians. Most of them are hit when farming, walking or clearing the rubble where their homes used to be. Many of the victims are children, partly because the bombs look like toys. Handicap’s report tells terrible and heartbreaking stories of children finding these munitions and playing catch with them, or using them as boules or marbles. Those who survive are often blinded, lose limbs or suffer horrible abdominal injuries.

Handicap International’s report can be found here.

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