"War is the greatest threat to public health." - Gino Strada, Italian war surgeon and founder of the UN-recognized Italian NGO Emergency

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cluster Bombs: By the Numbers


Sometimes we just need to strip away all the rhetoric to create clarity of vision. In the case of cluster bombs (see my last post), I thought it might be worthwhile to try such an exercise. Just the raw facts about cluster bombs:

* 400 million - Estimated number of people in countries and regions like Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Chechnya in areas affected by cluster bombs (effectively minefields).

* 24 - (minimum) number of countries affected by cluster bombs.

* 4 million - Estimated (by the U.N) number of cluster bomblets dropped on Lebanon during the 34-day conflict in 2006 (supplied by theUnited States).

* 73 - number of countries stockpiling cluster munitions.

* 5-10 percent - Estimated percentage of bomblets dropped on Lebanon that did not explode on impact, and continue to kill civilians since the end of the conflict. That's between 200,000 and 400,000 cluster bomblets scattered around the countryside waiting for unsuspecting victims, many of them children. The failure rate can be as high as 30 percent (some cite even higher numbers).

* 98 - Number of countries that have signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

* 98 - Also the percentage of cluster bomb victims who have been civilians (over the past three decades); roughly one third of the victims have been children.

* 17 - Number of countries that have ratified the Convention; need a minimum of 30 for the Convention to enter into force and become binding international law.

* 7 - Number of countries opposing a ban on cluster munitions. They are the United States, Britain, Israel, Russia, China, Canada and India. Some other countries have expressed strong concerns.

* 2 - Number of cluster bomb and launch systems that are U.S.-manufactured. After the Israel-Lebanon conflict, Human Rights Watch researchers found M26 rockets fired from Lockheed Martin's Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS). The MLRS can fire up to 12 rockets at once, and each rocket contains 644 M77 submunitions (bomblets).

So there you have it. It's time for EVERY nation to ban these diabolical weapons. It may seem like a miniscule step in a world awash with so many different weapons, but it IS an important step on the road to building a world where children do not have to fear going out to play.

CLICK HERE to learn more about cluster bombs at Friends Committee on National Legislation, where you can also send emails urging the U.S. Congress to ban cluster bombs.

Also check out the International Campaign to Ban Landmines or the associated U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines. You can also learn more at the Cluster Munition Coalition.



Photo Credit: Cluster bomb photo courtesy of The Times Online, Cluster Bombs of the Secret War.

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