Cluster bombs used in four Arab states in 2015

Cluster bombs used in four Arab states in 2015
Libya, Sudan, Syria and Yemen have not joined the international ban on the deadly weapons - and civilians are paying the price.
2 min read
04 September, 2015
Cluster munitions cause 'unacceptable harm to civilians' [AFP]

Cluster munitions have been used in 2015 in Libya, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen causing unacceptable harm to civilians, Human Rights Watch said on Thursday at the release of the five-year Cluster Munition Monitor 2015 report.

None of these countries have joined the ban on the weapons.

The report assesses how well countries have adhered to the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, which seeks to eradicate such weapons.

"Cluster munitions are banned weapons that shouldn't be used by anyone under any circumstance, because of the harm to civilians at the time of attack and long afterwards," said Mary Wareham, arms division advocacy director at Human Rights Watch and one of the editors of the report.

     Cluster munitions are banned weapons that shouldn't be used by anyone under any circumstance
- Mary Wareham, Human Rghts Watch

"Those who use cluster munitions should stop immediately, and join the international ban without delay," she added.

The weapons were banned by the 2008 convention because of their widespread indiscriminate effect when used, and the long-lasting danger to civilians from live ordinance which does not detonate with the rest of the weapon.

A total of 117 countries have signed or ratified the 2008 convention, which prohibits the use, production, transfer, and stockpiling of cluster munitions, and requires the clearance of cluster munition remnants within ten years - as well as providing assistance for victims of the weapons.

Fired by artillery and rocket systems or dropped by aircraft they usually explode in the air and spread dozens - sometimes hundreds - of smaller "bomblets" or submunitions over a large area.

Many submunitions fail to explode on initial impact, and remain on the ground where they act like landmines.

The report said that cluster munitions have been used in five countries so far in 2015 - four of which are Arab states.

In Libya, cluster bombs were dropped in early 2015 in two locations, but it has not been possible to determine who was responsible.

Sudan's armed forces used air-dropped cluster bombs in Southern Kordofan province in the first half of 2015, and previously in 2012.

Syrian government forces began using air-dropped cluster bombs in mid-2012 and then cluster munition rockets in attacks that are believed to be continuing, while the Islamic State group forces used cluster munition rockets in the second half of 2014.

One or more members of a Saudi Arabia-led coalition have also used air-dropped and ground-fired cluster munitions in northern Yemen since March 2015 in operations against Houthi forces.