London 1st September 2016. Published on the 1st September, the 2016 Cluster Munition Monitor reveals the intensive and repeated use of cluster munitions in Syria and Yemen. Handicap International is calling on States to comply with international law and to put pressure on belligerent parties to end the use of this barbaric weapon.
According to the report, in 2015, 97% of victims of cluster munitions were civilians and 36% of them were children. These weapons kill, injure, maim and cause serious psychological trauma. Up to 40% of these weapons do not explode on impact, and entire areas become uninhabitable.
In the time of the report, five States and one territory were affected by the use of cluster munitions: Ukraine, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Syria.
In Syria, 76 attacks using cluster munitions have been officially recorded since September 2015. The real figure is probably higher as there are reports nearly every day of new cluster munition attacks in Syria, according to the Monitor’s researchers.
In Yemen, since the Saudi-led coalition against Ansar Allah (The Houthis) began military operations on 25 March 2015, cluster munitions have been used in at least 19 attacks between April 2015 and February 2016. This use led the United States to suspend their sales of cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia last May.
The conflicts in Yemen and Syria are among the most hazardous in the world for civilians. A large number of the attacks using cluster munitions were in populated areas, such as markets, schools and hospitals. Handicap International is alarmed by the widespread and uncontrolled use of these banned weapons in these countries.
“The repeated use of cluster munitions in Syria and Yemen reveals a total disregard for civilian lives and, in certain cases, a deliberate attempt to target them. War does not mean everything is justified. International law exists and the Convention on Cluster Munitions is part of that. It must be enforced. The Convention on Cluster Munitions, the Mine Ban Convention and the Geneva conventions protect us from barbarism. All States have a responsibility to ensure these rules are upheld and enforced” says Aleema Shivji, Director of Handicap International UK.
Aleema Shivji, Director of Handicap International, is available for interviews.
Cluster bombs are weapons containing several hundred mini-bombs called cluster munitions. Designed to be scattered over large areas, they inevitably fall in civilian neighbourhoods. 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.
Around the world, 24 States and three territories were contaminated by cluster munition remnants worldwide. The renewed use of cluster munitions in Sudan and Ukraine until early 2015, and in Syria and Yemen until 2016, has increased contamination, endangering the lives of thousands of people for years to come
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.
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.