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New report on cluster munitions finds that 99% of victims are civilians

Explosive weapons

Released on 30th August, the 2018 Cluster Munition Monitor report reveals new attacks involving cluster munitions in 2017 in both Syria and Yemen. Shockingly 99% of these casualties were civilians and 65% of all new recorded casualties were in Syria. HI strongly condemns the use of these barbaric weapons and deplores the fact that in 2017 at least 289 people were killed or injured by cluster munitions in a total of eight countries and two territories. Although this figure is lower than in 2016, it remains unacceptable.

Cluster munitions scattered on the ground in Afghanistan

Cluster munitions scattered on the ground in Afghanistan | © John Rodsted

The conference of State Parties to the Oslo Convention, which bans the use of cluster munitions, is due to take place on from 3rd to 5th September in Geneva and HI is calling on States to enforce international law and put pressure on belligerent parties to end the use of this indiscriminate weapon. Whereas 120 States have already signed up, there is an urgent need for others to accede to the Convention, which ultimately aims to consign this devastating weapon to history.

Published every year the 2018 Cluster Munition Monitor report assesses the implementation of the Oslo Convention which bans the use, production, transfer and storage of cluster munitions, for the period from January to December 2017. The report also covers 2018 (through to August) where information is available.

This year key findings show that in 2017, cluster bombs continued to kill and injure civilians: the Monitor recorded 289 new cluster munition casualties in 2017 - caused either by use of these weapons or as a result of cluster munition remnants; 99% of these casualties were civilians. Even though this figure is significantly down on 2016 (971 casualties identified), it remains a major cause for concern. The figures numbers are almost certainly underestimated and it should be noted that the reduction comes after several years marked by heavy casualties particularly in Syria.

36 attacks were recorded in Syria between July 2017 and June 2018, compared with 238 attacks between August 2016 and July 2017. Since the second half of 2012, cluster munitions have been repeatedly used in Syria. At least 600 cluster bomb attacks took place between July 2012 and July 2017, accounting for 77% of the causalities recorded worldwide.
With 26 incidents Yemen suffered the second highest number of casualties from cluster munition attacks last year. As up to 40% of cluster munitions do not explode on impact, sub-munitions remain as hazardous as anti-personnel landmines and leave a deadly legacy for years to come.

The Monitor Report also finds that casualties from unexploded cluster munition remnants were recorded in eight countries and two territories: Cambodia, Iraq, Laos, Lebanon, Serbia, Syria, Vietnam and Yemen, together with Nagorno-Karabakh and Western Sahara. A third of the accidents recorded in 2017 were in Laos (32 casualties), the country with the highest levels of sub-munition contamination in the world. Appalingly 62% of the casualties of cluster munition remnants worldwide are children.

“War must be governed by rules and the Oslo Convention is part of that” says Anne Héry, Humanity & Inclusion's Head of Advocacy. “Every effort must be made to enforce the Convention and end the use of this barbaric weapon in conflict situations. States must defend and apply the Oslo Convention, along with the Ottawa Mine Ban Convention and other provisions under International Humanitarian Law.”

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