36 African states opposing the use of cluster bombs called on other African countries, including Egypt, to sign an international agreement banning the use of cluster bombs worldwide.
A delegation of the 36 states held a seminar on Friday in Togo’s capital Lome, where they expressed their opposition to the global use of cluster bombs and their effects. They stated that the use of cluster bombs has led to a large number of victims, including women and children, according to a statement issued following the seminar.
The seminar was held with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the government of Norway.
Cluster bombs are deadly explosives that spread across a broad area once released, leading to a series of explosions. According to the Coalition on Cluster Munitions, cluster bombs were used in 24 states in recent decades.
The statement argued for “immediate discontinuation of the use of cluster bombs” and called on African states that have not yet joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), including Egypt, to join.
The CCM is an international agreement signed in 2008 by 112 states to ban the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster bombs and to assist victims. Notably, only 83 out of the 112 states have ratified the agreement. 12 African states, including Egypt, have not signed the agreement so far.
“Besides the indiscriminate nature of these weapons and the high probability that they can harm civilians, cluster bombs are also highly likely to fail to detonate,” said Blaise Narteh-Messan, First Secretary of the Permanent Mission of Togo to the United Nations in Geneva, and Co-Chair of the meeting. “In some cases, this leaves thousands of tonnes of ordnance in the ground, posing a deadly threat to farmers, children and anyone using the land – sometimes for decades.”
Despite being a global problem, Africa is considered one of the most affected continents by cluster bombs. The African states of Angola, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Libya, Mauritania, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda and Zambia, have been affected by cluster bombs. The most recent use of cluster bombs in Africa was in 2012 in South Sudan, according to the statement.
The Egyptian government could not be reached for comment.