By Karen J. Coates / Photo by Jerry Redfern
Aug. 1, 2010
An international treaty banning the cluster bomb takes effect today. Cluster bombs are large weapons that hold up to several hundred small explosives designed to scatter across the land when dropped from the air. They are deadly hazards to farmers in postwar societies around the world.
Farmers in Laos have faced these dangers for decades. Millions of cluster munitions remain in their soil since the U.S. bombing campaign ended nearly 40 years ago. Since then, more than 20,000 people have been killed or maimed in accidents involving unexploded ordnance (UXO). Aside from soldiers, farmers account for the majority of UXO accident victims in Laos. Note: the United States has not signed the treaty banning cluster bombs—but 108 other countries have. READ MORE