A two-day meeting is getting underway in Norway to rally support for a ban on cluster bombs. The devices explode on impact, releasing bomblets randomly. Many remain hidden, dispersed over a wide area. Delegates from 40 nations will call for a total ban which Oslo hopes to push through by 2008. Human rights campaigners like Marc Joolan blame the bombs for killing and maiming thousands of innocent people:
“Throughout the world, we know of 21 countries which are still polluted with cluster bombs and the estimate goes towards around 33 million undetonated bomblets that are still lying around.”, he said.
Despite being targeted at military personnel, is mainly civilians and children who pay the price. An estimated 104,000 have been killed or injured since the bomb’s invention – but these are only recorded cases. Experts say it could take up to 18 months to clear southern Lebanon of cluster bombs fired during last year’s war. Other countries with significant problems include Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan.
While campaigners say people are dying to this day from devices planted 40 years ago during the conflict in Vietnam.