Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Innocent Victims

Yesterday, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) marked the first-every Global Day of Action Cluster Munitions, urging governments to create a legally binding international agreement banning deadly arms that pose a great threat to civilians, especially children. The agency explained that children were especially susceptible to these weapons because of their natural curiosity and desire to play. Cluster munitions often look like balls or canisters, while others are brightly colored, making them even more attractive to children.

One third of cluster munitions casualties in Afghanistan were children, while during the Kosovo war, more children were hurt by cluster munitions than by anti-personnel landmines. Tragically, children continue to fall victim to cluster munitions years or even decades after the end of a conflict in countries such as Bosnia, Cambodia, Iraq, Laos, Serbia and Vietnam.

Children who survive cluster munitions blasts are often permanently disabled or suffer from sight or hearing loss. In countries where cluster munitions are most prevalent, most parents rarely have the ability to afford both medical and school bills, thus causing great hardship for the entire family. “Too many tragic stories show that cluster munitions cannot be used in populated areas without jeopardizing a child's right to life, to health, to play and to a safe environment,” the agency said in a press release.