Nun calls for ban on cluster bombs
Sr Patricia Pak Poy, Australian coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) has called for an immediate moratorium on the use of cluster bombs in Afghanistan.
The Catholic Weekly reports that cluster bombs, which the US has admitted dropping over Afghanistan and which were also used in conflicts in the Balkans and Iraq, have a high failure rate and can lie unexploded across wide areas, ready to detonate on contact - in effect becoming landmines, killing civilians even years after a conflict has ended.
Sr Pak Poy said cluster bombs had a failure rate as high as 30%, meaning that thousands of unexploded bombs were left on the ground.
"These bomblets can explode, killing innocent civilians, aid workers or soldiers from either side," she said. "In essence these bomblets are acting like landmines."
Because of the appearance of the bomblets - some are orange-yellow, drink can-sized objects - children are particularly drawn to them.
There has been also been concern that "dud" bomblets closely resemble the small yellow food aid parcels being airdropped on Afghanistan. The International Red Cross has also called for a ban on cluster bombs, claiming that they were responsible for the killing or wounding of more than 150 civilians in the former Yugoslavia long after the bombing stopped.