A child, reportedly hurt in a U.S. cluster bomb blast, lies on the floor of hospital due to a lack of beds in Hilla, Iraq, on Wednesday. — AFP
I was going to post an image showing the full impact of a cluster bomb on a victim’s body but it was just too horrific.
The CBU (cluster bomb unit) 26, which was widely used in Laos, is an anti-personnel fragmentation bomb that consists of a large bombshell holding 670 tennis ball-sized bomblets, each of which contain 300 metal fragments. If all the bomblets detonate, some 200,000 steel fragments will be propelled over an area the size of several football fields, creating a deadly killing zone. The B1 bomber can carry enough cluster bombs to turn an area the size of 350 football fields into a killing zone.
With a high dud rate estimated to be 10 to 30 percent, unexploded cluster bombs lay on the ground becoming, in effect, super landmines, and can explode at the slightest touch. They have proven to be a serious, long-lasting threat, especially to civilians, but also to soldiers, peacekeepers and bomb clearance experts. Children, who are sometimes attracted to the bomblets’ bright colors and interesting shapes, represent a high percentage of victims.
Wherever they have been used – Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Sudan, Lebanon, Iraq, Kuwait, Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Ethiopia, Chechnya, and Afghanistan, unexploded cluster bombs have created problems for civilians.
Norway is pushing for an international meeting on cluster bombs that it hopes will lead to a worldwide treaty restricting the use of the munitions. The move follows the failure of a United Nations conference to agree any curbs on cluster weapons. Oslo says it will now invite countries to work outside the UN system to agree a ban modelled on the Ottawa Convention restricting the use of landmines.
Countries such as the United States and Russia, which have big stockpiles of cluster munitions, tried hard to keep the issue off the UN agenda completely. A proposal put forward by Britain to talk about cluster munitions in the future was finally adopted but was dismissed by humanitarian organisations as inadequate.
Not only do these bomblets kill and maim, they destroy whole environments, economies and societies. Those governments, designers, manufacturers, arms dealers and pilots that utilize this weapon are knowingly taking part in mass murder and should be dealt with accordingly.