Cluster munitions maim and kill Iraqis every day
Iraq – Every year hundreds of Iraqis are killed or maimed by cluster munitions and landmines, due to Iraq’s contamination of millions of explosive remnants of war (ERW). According to Iraqi figures, the contamination claimed 14,000 victims between 1991 and 2007, while in the three Kurdish governorates the estimated number of victims (both injuries and deaths) was 8,174 between 1991 and 2008.
Around one million Iraqi children are affected by mines and unexploded ordinance (UXOs), with some 2,000 children (a quarter of all victims) maimed or killed due to cluster bomblets since 1991. It is believed, according to the Landmine Impact Survey from 2006, that 1,730 square kilometres of land in Iraq are contaminated, affecting more than 1.6 million Iraqis in some 4,000 communities across the country.
According to a joint UNICEF-UNDP report, ‘Overview of Landmines and Explosive Remnants of War in Iraq’ released in July 2009, an estimated 2.66 million cluster bomblets and 20 million landmines are contaminating Iraq’s oil fields and farmlands. The contamination kills and ruins lives randomly, and significantly impedes both the economic recovery of Iraqis and their country. The landmines were planted in areas bordering Iran, a legacy of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War, while the millions of unexploded cluster munitions were dropped during the 1991 Gulf War and 2003 conflict.
Iraq signed the convention on Cluster Munitions on the 19th of November 2009, but has not ratified yet.
On 1 August 2010, the Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force and became binding international law in countries around the world. Only 15 months after it opened for signature in Oslo, the 30th state ratified the Convention on 16 February 2010, triggering its entry into force six months later. Now that the Convention has taken effect, states parties are bound by all of its terms, and the clock is ticking on deadlines for clearance of contaminated land and destruction of remaining stockpiles.
The milestone First Meeting of States Parties was held in November 2010 in Lao PDR – the most cluster-bombed country in the world. A total of 121 countries attended this historic meeting and adopted a strong Vientiane Action Plan that condemns the use of cluster munitions and outlines plans to implement the treaty.
On the occasion of the First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention of Cluster Munitions, taking place in Vientiane (Laos) during 9-12 November,2010 a photo essay highlighting the plight of Iraqi victims of cluster munitions was exhibited at the conference venue. These are some of the photos.