12 March 2009


Photos: NPA

New Report Highlights Full Extent of Impact of Unexploded Munitions on Population(Belgrade, 10 March 2009) - The Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) called on Serbia to sign the international treaty banning cluster bombs today at an event to launch a new report by Norwegian People's Aid that shows how unexploded cluster bomblets continue to threaten tens of thousands of civilians in the country 10 years after the NATO bombing."Serbia should sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions without delay, there is simply no reason not to and every reason to do so,"said Thomas Nash Coordinator of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC). "Serbia demonstrated leadership by supporting the ban early on in the movement to establish the treaty. Signature now would enable the government to follow through on its commitment to Serbian survivors of cluster bombs as well as with the international community."Serbia is not among the 95 governments that have joined the new treaty banning the use, transfer, production and stockpiling of cluster munitions and requiring states to assist victims and clear contaminated land. While Serbia was a strong proponent of the cluster bomb prohibition and hosted the first ever meeting of affected states in October 2007, it has failed to sign the Convention and has made no official statement to explain its stance."As a civilian victim from Serbia I am disgusted by the attitude of my government", said Dejan Dikic who suffered severe injuries from a cluster bomb in 1999. I can't understand it. Serbia was a leader in the process especially on victim assistance. All the survivors in Serbia feel the same, we need support and the government is turning its back on us right when it has the perfect tool to give us the support we need."During the 1999 NATO bombing campaign, US, British and Dutch forces dropped at least 37,000 sub-munitions on Serbian territory. According to the survey published by Norwegian People's Aid (NPA), a CMC member, a decade on unexploded cluster bomblets continue to pose a threat to tens of thousands of local inhabitants. Serbia is one of the few affected countries in the world to have also used and produced cluster munitions. It still possesses an outdated stockpile of the weapon in its military arsenal. Serbia is the only country from the former Yugoslavia that has not signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions."The case of Serbia shows once again that civilians bear the brunt of cluster munitions even years after conflicts end,"says Grethe Østern, Policy Advisor at NPA and Co-Chair of the CMC. "The CMC is calling on all countries to sign, ratify and implement the Convention without delay."The Convention on Cluster Munitions was opened for signature in December 2008. It prohibits the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions and places obligations on countries to clear affected areas, assist victims and destroy stockpiles. The Cluster Munition Coalition represents around 300 civil society organisations from more than 80 countries promoting universal adherence to and full implementation of the Convention. The CMC facilitates the efforts of NGOs worldwide to educate governments and the public about the problems of cluster munitions and the solution through the global treaty banning the weapon.Remarks by Thomas Nash, CMC - Belgarde, 10 March 2009NPA Press Release, Belgrade, 10 March 2009Note to editors:Documents available:- NPA “Report on the impact of unexploded cluster munitions in Serbia”, January 2009- CMC briefing paper on the Convention on Cluster MunitionsAvailable for interviews:Emil Jeremic, Regional Director, NPA (English, Norwegian, Serbian)Thomas Nash, Global Co-ordinator, Cluster Munition Coalition (English, French, Spanish)Dejan Dikic, cluster bomb survivor and member of the Ban Advocates, (Serbian, English)The Ban advocates are women and men from diverse cluster munitions affected communities. They know the reality of cluster munitions and strongly advocate for a global ban. Many have experienced violence, exclusion and poverty caused by those indiscriminate weapons. www.banadvocates.org.