At the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, we believe that students can play a vital role in helping the world’s children survive and thrive. That’s why we are so impressed with a group in West Virginia called Proud Students Against Landmines and Cluster Bombs (PSALM).
Tag Archives for "cluster munitions"
Just this year, on February 19, 2010, eight children from Champassak Province came upon a cluster bomb in the rice paddies near their home. Like many bombs this deadly weapon resembled a toy, and the children tossed it around in play. The bomb exploded; two children survived, one was severely injured, and five were killed.
Recently, for the first time ever, the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives held a hearing on the legacy of unexploded ordnance in Laos. Representative Eni Faleomavaega of American Samoa, who chaired the hearing, said, “To this very day…these deadly, unexploded ordnances continue to claim the lives of a people who were not and never were at war with us, and unless we rectify this now, the loss of life will go on and on, tomorrow, the next day, and every day thereafter.”
|The “Magic Cricket” – Okay it’s a bit…different. But in Laos, the cricket holds special appeal to children. It is a ready source of food, and children often dig for them in fields. With the help of a “magic cricket,” UNICEF and local partners are working to teach children about the dangers of explosives and reduce accidents. Educators dress up in costume and lead children through a program of instructional games. Children learn how to identify mines or bombs and what to do if they find them.|
Though the U.S. war in Vietnam and Laos ended 35 years ago, the war’s deadly legacies remain. An estimated 75 million cluster munitions failed to detonate, and most of them still litter Laos’s countryside or remained buried in the soil. And they still explode when disturbed – approximately 300 Lao people, including 100 children, continue to be maimed or killed by leftover bombs every year. The United States has been generous in providing assistance to help find and destroy these munitions, but it is a dangerous, painstaking, slow process. Over the past 15 years, fewer than 500,000 leftover munitions have been destroyed.
Because of the threats to children and their parents, as part of its work to protect children, UNICEF helps teach children about the dangers of cluster bombs.
Sadly, that is not enough to protect every child. But we can do something to make sure that this cluster bomb pollution never happens again! As you might know from our advocacy alert, proposed legislation would ensure that U.S.-made cluster munitions will not be around to poison the land after the conflict has long ended.
The Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act still has not been acted upon by the U.S. Congress. If you haven’t already, take a minute and send your Senators and Representatives a note that you support the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act. Let’s not leave behind any more fatal legacies.
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For years, the world has known about the devastating effects of cluster munitions on civilians