29 May 2008

Churches praise new Government stance on cluster munitions

At talks in Dublin over the last two weeks, governments have drafted the text for a treaty to ban the use of cluster bombs. This week the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown has committed the UK to withdrawing the remaining two cluster munitions from its arsenal.

The Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church have for some time campaigned for a full ban on cluster munitions. Today they issued a joint statement welcoming the outcome of the Dublin summit.

Graham Sparkes, Head of Faith & Unity, the Baptist Union of Great Britain says; "the churches have been calling for such a treaty for a long time. Cluster bombs kill indiscriminately and continue to do so long after fighting has stopped, harming those who are already living in a vulnerable situation following the conflict."

In the two months after the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah on average three civilians were killed every day by unexploded cluster bombs. One third of these deaths were children.

Simon Loveitt, the United Reformed Church's Spokesperson on Public Issues, says; "The agreement in Dublin offers hope for a future without such weapons and the chance to offer improved protection for civilians during and after conflict. In the past, the UK has been a significant user of cluster munitions. The UK Government's support for a complete ban is therefore particularly important."

However, Steve Hucklesby, Methodist Secretary for International Affairs, warns that there is still much to be done; "The work is not yet finished. The strength of this treaty will largely depend on encouraging more governments to support it and take the important steps to phase out the stockpiling and use of these weapons."

Information about the Churches' campaign on cluster bombs can be found at www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/clustermunitions

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