LEBANON: MAG Welcomes Ratification of Cluster Bomb Ban Treaty
MAG has welcomed today’s announcement that the international treaty banning the use of cluster munitions has been ratified.
The news will have even more resonance for people in Lebanon, Lao PDR and Iraq, where the lethal threat from unexploded cluster munitions continues to affect daily life in countless communities.
MAG has been working in many of these communities for more than a decade, clearing deadly cluster bombs as well as other dangerous remnants of conflict that threaten people’s safety and prevent their development for years after war has ended.
As the United Nations confirmed in New York that 30 countries have now successfully ratified the terms of the ban, drafted by the Convention on Cluster Munitions, MAG’s teams in southern Lebanon and throughout Lao PDR were at work, working with local communities to reduce and remove the threat from these abandoned weapons.
“Now that the treaty has been officially ratified MAG looks forward to working more closely with our partner agencies – governments as well as other non-governmental organisations – to increase support for clearance operations, operations that are intrinsically linked to communities being able to build safer futures for themselves and their children after conflict,” said Lou McGrath OBE, Chief Executive of MAG.
MAG has been working in Lao PDR, the country most contaminated with unexploded cluster munitions, since 1994. Roughly the size of the UK, it is believed more than 260 million submunitions – small highly-charged “bomblets” of which many make up a larger cluster bomb – were dropped there in the 1960s and 70s. Some estimates suggest as many as 80 million of these bomblets still litter the land.
“People in Laos have been living with the legacy of one of the heaviest and most under-reported bombing campaigns in history for 30 years, and although serious efforts to clear the land are being made, there remains a huge amount of work to do,” said Lou.
“The Laos Government took a massive step signing and ratifying the terms of this treaty, proving their desire to work with the international community in removing the threat they face from unexploded ordnance and improving their country’s development,” he added.
The south of Lebanon was also left badly contaminated by cluster munitions after the conflict between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006.
Since then MAG has cleared more than 13 million square metres of land and destroyed at least 21,000 submunitions, enabling hundreds of families to safely return to their homes.
Related articles [external links]:
Cluster bombs banned [IRIN]
17 February 2010