36 African countries condemn use of cluster bombs

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36 African countries meeting in Togo have condemned the continued use of cluster bombs worldwide and urged all African nations to sign up to an international ban.

A statement issued at a seminar organized in the capital, Lomé, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Norway, says African states are gravely concerned about the global "recent and on-going use of cluster munitions as well as by their effects," and that the use of these weapons "has led to mounting numbers of victims, including women and children."

The statement goes on to urge the immediate discontinuation of the use of cluster bombs and calls on African countries that have not yet done so to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions, an international agreement signed by 112 countries to ban the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions and provide assistance to victims. Twelve African nations are yet to join the convention.

Co-Chair of the meeting Blaise Narteh-Messan, First Secretary of the Permanent Mission of Togo to the United Nations in Geneva, says "Besides the indiscriminate nature of these weapons and the high probability that they can harm civilians, cluster bombs are also highly likely to fail to detonate", leaving "thousands of tonnes of ordnance in the ground, posing a deadly threat to farmers, children and anyone using the land – sometimes for decades".

Cluster munitions are explosive devices contained in larger canisters that, when released mid-flight, spread across a broad area, delivering a series of small explosions. According to the Coalition on Cluster Munitions, they have been used in at least 24 countries and three territories in recent decades and unexploded cluster bombs remain a serious hazard and impediment to development in many post conflict societies.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’41″

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