Sunday, November 23, 2008

Vietnam: Cluster bombs a threat for 440 years

Of course the US does not support a ban on the weapons--neither do Russia nor China nor Israel. Countries that use them should be held responsible for clearing them later but of course this does not happen although as this article mentions there is an American Vets organisation that does help with funding. Canada does support the ban as I recall.

Cluster bombs a threat for 440 years
22/11/2008 -- 10:13 PM
HCM City (VNA) – An estimated 98 percent of victims of cluster munitions worldwide are civilians, with children accounting for one third of that number, according to Nguyen Thi Kim Hoa of the Landmine Survivors Network Vietnam . “An unspecified large amount of unexploded cluster munitions remain in the ground from the war,” said Hoa while opening a seminar on Nov. 21 on international cooperation on clearing cluster munitions and assisting Vietnamese victims. Cluster munitions are large-sized weapons dropped from the air or shot from the ground that produce hundreds of smaller-bombs when they reach their target. Statistics show 20.2 percent or 6.6 million ha of land are affected by unexploded ordnance in Vietnam . About 104,000 people have been injured or killed this way since 1975. Nearly 97 million tonnes of bombs, of which 296,000 are cluster munitions, were carpeted across Vietnam between 1965 and 1975. Every geographic area in Vietnam, both rural and urban, has been contaminated with 16 different types of cluster bombs and ammunition. Most of it was found at depths of 30 to 70cm, said Nguyen Trong Canh, director of the Vietnam Bombs and Mines Clearance Action Centre. He said it would take at least 440 years and 10 billion USD to clear this left over ammunition across the nation, adding that it would have an enormous impact on human life, socio-economic development and the environment. Canh said unexploded munitions would discourage people from cultivating their land, reducing farm productivity and hampering socio-economic development. Each year the Vietnamese Government spends hundreds of millions of dollars on clearance and other mine action activities. Funding comes from several non-governmental organisations and foreign donors. But Chuck Searcy from the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation said foreign donations had fallen recently, which might force Vietnam to deal with generations of victims itself. A total of 107 countries, including Vietnam , ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Dublin last May in an effort to strictly ban the use, production, transport and storage of cluster munitions globally.-Enditem

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