From IPS news agency:
Libya: Hidden Bombs Hit Libyans
17 July 2011
Cairo — The conflict in Libya between pro- and anti-Gaddafi forces will continue to take its toll on communities long after the war has ended as long as hidden bombs remain scattered across public areas.
Fifteen-year-old Misurata resident Mohammed lost most of his left hand and sustained shrapnel injuries to his abdomen in April after an unexploded ordnance found near his house detonated in his hands while he was playing.
“It was a rifle grenade that he brought home, and his brothers actually played with it for a couple of days, but on the third day when he picked it up, it exploded,” photographer and communications manager with Mines Advisory Group (MAG), Sean Sutton told IPS.
“He was very lucky to survive but it was a deeply traumatic experience for him and his family,” adds Sutton. “Children are of course the most vulnerable in this scenario, because they don’t know what’s safe and also they tend to play with these ordnances, which puts them at risk.”
Cluster munitions or cluster bombs are air dropped or ground-launched explosive weapons that can eject up to 2,000 sub-munitions, or bomblets. Unexploded ordnances (UXO) of cluster bomblets or sub-munitions are usually left behind after a strike and are designed to detonate at a later time, making their indiscriminate effects – of killing or maiming civilians – felt long after the attack has occurred.
“Cluster bombs cause two major risks: First, their widespread dispersal means they cannot distinguish between military targets and civilians, so the immediate humanitarian impact can be extreme, especially when the weapon is used in or near populated areas,” Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) Director Laura Cheeseman told IPS. “Secondly, many sub-munitions fail to detonate on impact and become de facto anti-personnel mines killing and maiming people long after the conflict has ended. These ‘duds’ are more lethal than anti-personnel mines – incidents involving sub-munitions ‘duds’ are much more likely to cause death than injury.”
Adopted in May 2008 in Dublin, Ireland, the Convention on Cluster Munitions prohibits ratifying nations from using cluster munitions. The convention, which became international law in August 2010, has been ratified by 55 states out of 108 signatories.
“During last month’s intercessional meetings of the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions there were repeated calls made by both the CMC and by states parties condemning Gaddafi’s use of these indiscriminate weapons, and for Libya to join the convention as soon as the conflict is over,” said Cheeseman.
Gaddafi’s Libya is not the only party in this bloody war guilty about cluster bombs. The United States and other NATO countries have not ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions either.
Since late March, NATO has conducted nearly 6,000 bombing missions – including 382 strikes on ammunition storage facilities. NATO operations aimed at enforcing a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for the protection of Libyan civilians has added new risks to the already thousands of unexploded ordnances strewn across residential areas.
US wants to end Libya’s independent resistance: here.
UK banks and cluster bombs: here.