Thursday, August 31, 2006

An outrage

August 30th, 2006. BBC News: "UN clearance experts had so far found 100,000 unexploded cluster bomblets at 359 separate sites, Jan Egeland said."

"90% of the cluster bomb strikes occurred in the last 72 hours of the conflict, when we knew there would be a resolution."

BBC News information on cluster bombs: "Cluster bombs are controversial weapons consisting of a canister which breaks apart to release a large number of small bombs. A range of so-called bomblets can be employed to attack different targets such as armoured vehicles or people - or to start fires. . . They can cover a large area but do not have precision guidance. Dropped from medium to high altitudes, they can wander off target. . . There is a significant "dud rate" of about 5%. In other words, many do not explode but, rather like landmines, litter the ground with the potential to explode years later. There are said to be thousands in Kosovo. . . The 202 bomblets are yellow cylinders about the size of a drinks can - 8 ins long and 2.5 ins across (20 x 6 cms). . . When they explode, the bomblets cause damage and injury across a wide area. . . The explosive charge is capable of piercing armour to a depth of about 7 ins (17 cms). The blast has a radius of as much as 250 ft (76 m)."

Human Rights Watch: "A key United Nations clearance expert has expressed concern about the similarity of the coloring of the yellow BLU-97/B cluster bomblets and the small yellow food aid parcels being airdropped in Afghanistan, noting that people are being encouraged to pick up the food parcels, but that picking up a bomblet would be lethal. He said, "Our experience in Kosovo showed us that children and youths were highly susceptible to the submunitions". . . Human Rights Watch criticized NATO for use of cluster bombs in Kosovo, particularly in or near populated areas. Human Rights Watch believes there were nine to fourteen cluster bomb attacks resulting in civilian casualties during the conflict, causing an estimated ninety to 150 civilian deaths, or 18 to 30 percent of all civilian deaths, even though cluster bombs represented just 6 percent of weapons expended in the air war
. . . The civilian toll due to cluster bombs was even greater following the end of the conflict." (my italics)

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