Every World Cup tournament inspires young people worldwide to be the soccer players/ footballers of tomorrow. Yet for those living in cluster munition, landmine and UXO contaminated countries, this dream remains a difficult reality.
A cluster munition, also known as a cluster bomb, is a weapon containing multiple explosive submunitions. Like landmines, these submunitions can remain a fatal threat to anyone in the area long after a conflict ends.
Cluster munitions are dropped from aircraft or fired from the ground or sea, opening up in mid-air to release tens or hundreds of submunitions, which can saturate an area up to the size of several football fields. Anybody within the strike area of the cluster munition, be they military or civilian, is very likely to be killed or seriously injured. The fuze of each submunition is generally activated as it falls so that it will explode above or on the ground. But often large numbers of the submunitions fail to work as designed, and instead land on the ground without exploding, where they remain as very dangerous.
- Cluster bombs are designed as anti‐personnel, anti‐armor weapons, but the primary victims have been innocent civilians. More than 95% of known cluster bomb victims are civilians and 40 percent are children, who are drawn to the small, toy‐like metal objects.
- Cluster bomb casings release hundreds of bomblets—the size of a soup can or orange—over wide areas, frequently missing intended military targets and killing nearby civilians.
- Commonly used cluster bombs are designed to explode into hundreds of pieces of razor‐sharp shrapnel that rip through bodies. “We call for fair play, on the field of sport, and in the field of disarmament,” said Gabriel Silva, Coordinator of the Brazilian Campaign against Landmines and Cluster Munitions. “While the majority of the world’s governments have banned this weapon and disassociated itself from it, many continue to put profits ahead of civilian lives.” A soccer player from Laos, 19-year-old Mini Phanthavong, lives in an area that is heavily contaminated with cluster munition remnants. For Mini and his football friends, kicking the ball off the football pitch could be lethal. “When we kick the ball into a bush or the forest lawn, we have to go out of the playing field to collect the ball,” says Mini, “with every step that I walk outside of the marked pathway, I am always concerned and scared.” Every country in the world, including the United States, can and should join the CONVENTION ON CLUSTER MUNITIONS and THE MINE BAN TREATY. To accomplish that, we need you! Your voice is needed… JOIN WVCBL/PSALM AND CONTACT your elected officials (https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials) and let them know we aren’t going to win a war or defend our country with a weapon that kills civilians, especially children. It is a question of political will and of prioritizing the protection of civilians over using outdated and indiscriminate weapons.