As the Russian military begins operations in Syria, Handicap International reminds Russia that cluster munitions are banned by the international Oslo treaty, which has been ratified or signed by 118 States, but not yet by the Russian Federation. Handicap International will remain vigilant for signs of any cluster munition use.
"All parties to the conflict must prohibit the use of such indiscriminate weapons that blindly target civilians," said Anne Héry, Director of Advocacy at Handicap International. "Every step should be taken to spare civilian populations that have been, until now, the main victims of violence in Syria and Iraq. In addition to the deaths, injuries, and maiming, the use of explosive weapon—including cluster munitions—in urban areas causes major population displacement and makes entire areas uninhabitable because of the explosive remnants of war left behind."
Following the first Ban Treaty review conference on cluster weapons held in Croatia this past September, States parties to the Treaty have unanimously adopted a strong political declaration reaffirming an imperative—the systematic condemnation of any use of munitions. Handicap International therefore reminds all States of their commitment to criticize any actor that employs these barbaric weapons.”
While the Russian Federation has not acceded to the Oslo Treaty, over the past year, it has condemned the use of cluster munitions in Sudan or Ukraine.
According to the 2015 Cluster Munition Monitor, “Russia, and historically the Soviet Union, is a major producer and exporter of cluster munitions.” As late as 2011, the country was believed to have a stockpile of about 5.5 million cluster munitions.
More than 90% of the identified victims of cluster bombs in the world are civilians. Up to 40% of these bombs do not explode on impact, constituting a threat to civilians for decades after a conflict, impeding the social and economic life in polluted areas.
Photo above give an example of what sub-munitions look like. These were found and grouped together in south Lebanon, 2006.
© Z. Johnson / Handicap International