September 06, 2006

More on Cluster Bombs

I went today with several NGO’s to the south that deal with cluster bombs. One deals with the cleaning up, another with the making the people aware of the problem, one deals with supplying information for a data base that should eventually lead to a ban on cluster bombs, another one assists cluster bomb victims and on and on.

It is a very sad issue really, as more than 75 people have been injured (of whom 12 died) since the cease fire. I did not take pictures, as I am not in the market for the ‘poor victims in hospital bed’ strategy; their testimonies are enough. So we spoke to Ali (12) who is left with an index finger and a thumb on his right hand, after playing next to his house in the south, and Aliya (37), who lost three of her – incredibly long and beautiful - fingers while harvesting tobacco. Had she lived in the west, we would have said she had great ‘piano fingers’. And Miriam (60 something) who got hit in the abdomen while sweeping her garden path.
And the story goes on and on. I did two stories on them, hopefully I can publish the links tomorrow (but you better read Dutch).

For the moment some small details (as the participants told me) on cluster bombs:

* The south currently contains over 100,000 unexploded cluster bombs
* Unexploded cluster bombs act like mines
* The Israelis shot over 80 % of their cluster bombs in the last 72 hours of the conflict
* Israel seems to have tried to get rid of their old stock. Most of the cluster bombs used were out of date. The shelf life of a cluster bomb is 10 years; these dated from 1973
* These cluster bombs seem to have a failure rate of 80 %
* Lebanon is one of only 21 countries where cluster bombs were used. Lebanon however, was the recipient in this case.
* Cluster bombs were used before in Lebanon, in 1982.
* These time, only the south seems to have been hit by cluster bomb, indicating that these were spread by artillery.
* Cluster bombs can explode as late as 30 years after the end of a conflict.
* Cluster bombs are bombs that release in mid air small bomblets (88 to over 600, depending on the type). You have anti-tank and anti-personnel bombs. The latter was used in Lebanon.

This information was retrieved through a number of reputable organizations, such an the UN,
Handicap International and MAG.

1 comment:

petergarner said...

I feel disturbed and outraged by the use of cluster bombs in Lebanon. Is it true that these bombs were made in America? And if they were, shouldn't we feel the same sort of responsibility that the Canadians felt towards the use of Napalm, which was concocted in Canada? I was wondering if you have, or if you can get, any contact information for the NGOs doing work with UXOs etc in southern Lebanon, and if you could post it, or email it to me.. Thanks,

Peter, New York City