Published on the 31st August, the 2017 Cluster Munition Monitor report reveals a sharp rise in the number of new casualties of cluster munitions, which more than doubled between 2015 and 2016. Handicap International is calling on States to enforce international law and to put pressure on belligerent parties to end the use of this barbaric weapon.
According to the report, the number of people killed or injured by cluster munitions more than doubled between 2015 and 2016. There were 971 casualties of these barbaric weapons in 2016 compared with 419 in 2015. Civilians account for 98 percent of sub munition casualties reported around the world - almost all of them.
Cluster munitions have been in continuous use in Syria since mid-2012. The Syrian conflict alone accounted for 89 percent of the world’s cluster munition casualties in 2016, that is, 860 victims out of 971. There were 51 new casualties in Laos and 38 in Yemen.
A total of six States and one territory have been affected by the use of sub munitions since January 2015: in addition to Syria and Yemen, the use of cluster munitions was once again reported in the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, the subject of a dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and in Somalia in 2016, and Ukraine, Sudan and Libya in early 2015. According to reliable but unconfirmed reports, cluster munitions appear to have been used in Libya and Iraq in 2016 and early 2017.
“The repeated and on-going use of sub munitions in Syria reveals the total disregard for civilian lives and, in some cases, a deliberate intention to target them. War also has rules and the Oslo Convention is part of that. Every effort must be made to ensure it is enforced and to end the use of this barbaric weapon in conflict situations. States must defend and apply the Oslo Convention, and the Ottawa mine ban convention, and other provisions under International Humanitarian Law.” says Anne Hery, Handicap International's Director of Advocacy and Institutional Relations.
Whereas the vast majority of new casualties (857) were injured or killed in cluster munition attacks, there were 114 casualties of sub munition remnants in 2016. Up to 40% of these weapons do not explode on impact, and sub munitions become as dangerous as anti-personnel mines and make entire areas uninhabitable. Half of accidents reported in 2016 were in Laos (51 casualties), the country most heavily polluted by sub munitions in the world.
“Handicap International is calling on States to support victim assistance programmes. The injuries caused by sub munitions are among the most difficult to treat. An explosion tears off one or more limbs and riddles the body with shrapnel. Injured people often become amputees. They can suffer permanent disabilities with social, economic and psychological consequences. Without rehabilitation care, without support for their social, economic or educational reintegration, without psychological assistance, and the like, casualties and their families find it very difficult to play a role in their communities again,” adds Anne Hery.
Marlene Sigonney, Handicap International UK
Tel: +44 (0)870 774 3737
Cluster bombs are weapons containing several hundred mini-bombs called cluster munitions. Designed to be scattered over large areas, they inevitably fall in civilian areas. Up to 30% (or even 40%) do not explode on impact. Like anti-personnel mines, they can be triggered at the slightest contact, killing and maiming people during and after conflicts. Indiscriminately affecting civilians and civilian property and military targets, cluster munitions violate international humanitarian law.
The Convention on Cluster Munitions banning the use, production, transfer, stockpiling and sale of cluster munitions was opened for signature in December 2008. There are currently 119 State signatories to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
The Stop bombing civilians! Campaign
In 2017 Handicap International launched a global campaign to collect one million signatures to urge all states to “Stop bombing civilians”. The petition can be signed at www.stop-bombing-civilians.org along with more information about the campaign.
About Handicap International
Co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Handicap International is a charity working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. We work tirelessly alongside disabled and vulnerable people to help meet their basic needs, improve their living conditions and promote respect for their dignity and fundamental rights.
For the past 30 years, Handicap International has been campaigning against anti-personnel mines and cluster bombs, with projects ranging from bomb clearance, risk education to teach civilians about the dangers of these weapons and victim assistance. This led to the signing of the Ottawa mine ban convention (1997) and the Oslo convention on cluster munitions (2008). Handicap International is one of six founding organisations of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and co-founder of the Cluster Munition Coalition.