Tag Archives: minefields of cluster bombs

The Horrors of Bombing: 50 Years After

 In Cambodia, however, fertile land often signifies danger rather than abundance. When America dropped an estimated 1.8m tonnes of explosives on the country during the Vietnam war, those falling on hard ground generally detonated, whereas many landing on softer earth did not. No one knows how many bombs remain in rich soil. But a paper by four academics at Ohio State University who studied satellite images and reports by landmine-removal groups from a single village, found that perhaps half of the munitions have not exploded.

These wartime remnants have given the United States’ bombing campaign of 1965-73—which ostensibly targeted Viet Cong supply lines, but caused perhaps 150,000 deaths—an enduringly lethal legacy. Since 1979, unexploded ordnance has killed at least 19,000 people in Cambodia (though some may have been blown up by landmines from subsequent wars, rather than by American bombs). Cambodia now has the world’s highest rate of amputees.

A recent study by Erin Lin shows that America’s bombardment injured not just Cambodia’s people but its economy as well. She first interviewed farmers in the country, who said they thought that richer, darker soil presented an unusually high risk of hidden ordnance—especially in heavily bombed areas. They work in constant fear of explosions. Some said that they only planted crops in parts of their farms that they were confident contained no bombs, or that they used hand tools instead of machines to reduce the risk of detonation.

Excerpt from Blood and Soil: American Bombing 50 Years Ago Still Shapes Cambodian Agriculture, Mar. 20, 2021

Saudi Arabia Uses Cluster Bombs in Yemen

A Saudi-led Arab coalition will halt its use of British-made cluster munitions in Yemen, the Saudi government said on on December 19, 2016, after 20 months of war in which thousands of civilians have been killed and injured in airstrikes.  In London, Britain’s defense minister, Michael Fallon, confirmed in Parliament that the coalition had dropped “a limited number” of British-supplied cluster munitions in Yemen.   Britain, a signatory to an international convention that prohibits use of the munitions, has been investigating whether the coalition dropped the munitions, BL-755 bombs, in Yemen after a report in May 2016 by the rights group Amnesty International…Mr. Fallon stressed that Britain had sold the munitions to Riyadh in the 1980s, long before the convention in 2008.

They pose a particular risk to children, who can be attracted by their toylike appearance and bright colors.  Amnesty International said in May 2016 that civilians returning home in northern Yemen risked injury and death from “minefields” of deadly cluster bombs.

Excerpt from Saudi Arabia Says It Will Stop Using British-Made Cluster Bombs in Yemen, Reuters, Dec. 19, 2016