Today is International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. This is an issue that encompasses war and violence against civilians, disability and the loss of limbs, and internation co-operation and action (or lack of) and it's something I feel very strongly about.
It's bad enough that people lose legs in car accidents and to cancer, but for innocent civilians to be losing limbs for no reason except that other countries have used disgusting weapons in their area that last long after wars finish, and because the international community lacks the willpower to a) ban the further use of these weapons and b) clear those that are still in the ground. The UN is trying to achieve these things, but in terms of the rest of the international political world *insert sarcasm here* it's not like people being blown up or limbs being blown off is on a par with important issues like the global economy and the G20 conference...
Anyway, the UN have a site called http://www.mineaction.org/, but if you don't have time to go there, here's a snippet of what they're saying there: "With high level interest in the new Convention on Cluster Munitions, the innovative Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and an upcoming review conference on the groundbreaking Anti-Personnel Landmine Convention in Colombia later this year, worldwide efforts to remove landmines and explosive remnants of war are at the top of the United Nations agenda... The joint effort by mine-affected countries, the United Nations and mine action partner organizations to clear mines, provide mine risk education services and destroy stockpiles has contributed to a reduction in the annual number of new casualties from landmines and explosive remnants of war to about 5,500—down nearly 75 percent from a high of 26,000 in 1997."
For more info on cluster bombs, see the wikipedia article - according to www.clusterconvention.org, the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) "prohibits all use, stockpiling, production and transfer of Cluster Munitions". Cluster munitions are banned for any nations that ratify this Convention, which was adopted in Ireland in May last year, and was signed by 94 nations in December last year in Oslo, Norway. There have been recent controversial cases (or allegations) of clusterbombs being used by the Russians in Georgia, Israelis in Lebanon, Hezbollah in Israel, and Sri Lanka against the Tamils. For more info about the anti-clusterbomb campaign, see http://www.clusterbombs.org - according to this website, between 5 and 30% (sometimes up to 40%) of the bomblets used in cluster bombs do not explode on impact, causing future harm to those who happen to come into contact with them in the days, weeks, months or years after the bombs are dropped. According to www.clusterbombs.org, "children represent 27% of the victims of non-exploded submunition bombs. Attracted by their bright colors, children sometimes mistake them for food rations or toys."
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