Cluster munition – Eastern Ukraine’s ticking bomb

Human Rights Watch published a report on Tuesday stating that cluster munition is being used on civilian areas in Eastern Ukraine. While it can not be determined with certainty which conflict party used the cluster munition that remnants were found, evidence point towards the Ukrainian government. The use of cluster munition is internationally banned by some countries, but still quite many nations did not sign a convention to ban cluster munition such as USA, Russia, Ukraine and China.

Cluster munition consists of up to several hundred units of explosive or incendiary submunition. While some parts of the submunition detonate on impact or shortly after that, a considerable amount of these bomblets remain on ground thus becoming landmines that explode when touched or moved. Especially unexploded submunition of cluster bombs are dangerous for civilians for a long time if not cleared. Children can mistake such submunition as toys and get killed or severely injured when touching remaining submunition. The submunition of cluster munition stays dangerous for a long time, for example in Vietnam even today after almost 40 years, every year people die or get injured by unexploded cluster munition.

Also in the case of Ukraine unexploded submunition stays dangerous until it is properly cleared. The longer the conflict is active, the longer it takes to clear unexploded submunition.

With winter approaching the risk for civilians is growing. Unexploded bomblets can be covered under snow and become thus harder to distinguish or impossible to be discovered at all. Additionally these bomblets are spread  and covered by natural events (e. g. storms), thus becoming a ticking bomb for future generations as seen in many other conflicts. This affects also land mines if being used in the conflict. For the sake of civilian life the use of cluster munition should not only be banned, but unexploded munition must be removed properly as soon as possible.

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