Churches call for full ban on cluster bombs

On the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Mine BanTreaty the Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church and theBaptist Union of Great Britain call on the UK Government to endtheir use of cluster bombs by UK forces. The churches are alsoasking the Foreign Secretary David Miliband to actively support aninternational treaty to ban such weapons.

Cluster bombs are air or ground launched devices that scattersmaller bombs (or submunitions) over a large area. The submunitionsthat fail to explode pose a unique threat to civilians. Theseunexploded bombs effectively create minefields and maim and killchildren or adults who disturb them later on. In the two monthsafter the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, three or fourcivilians were killed, on average, every day by unexploded clusterbombs. On average, a child died each day as a result of theseweapons.

Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church,the Revd Dr Stephen Orchard, says; "Cluster bombs kill and maimcivilians indiscriminately and go on killing long after thefighting has stopped. The coming year provides us with a uniqueopportunity to strengthen international humanitarian law and toprovide improved protection for civilians during and afterconflict."

Earlier this year, the Government committed to the Oslo Process - anew international process to agree a treaty on cluster bombs - andhas withdrawn two types of cluster bombs from its stockpiles.

But the Revd David Deeks, General Secretary of the MethodistChurch, says there is still much more to be done; "Importantprogress has been made, but that's no reason to stop now. The UKstill retains other types of cluster bomb, which are just asinhumane and leave behind a deadly legacy. It's time for theGovernment to act on the promises made earlier this year and showthat it means business."

The Churches have also published campaign information online at www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/clustermunitionswith advice on how people can take action, from emailing theForeign Secretary or writing to their MP to getting others to takeaction.

Jonathan Edwards, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of GreatBritain, says; "This resource is a great starting point for anyoneinterested in getting these terrible weapons banned for good.Everyone can do something to make a difference, whether they havejust two minutes of time to spare, or twenty minutes."