‘Ban Bus' travelled the provinces seeking signatures for petition against deadly cluster bombs, millions of which still litter the country
AN international effort against cluster bombs has made its way to Cambodia, with donors and aid groups travelling through the eastern part of the country this week collecting signatures from villagers in support of a global ban on the deadly munitions.
The "Ban Bus", an effort organised by various groups, including the Cambodian Red Cross, Norwegian People's Aid, Religions for Peace and the UN Development Program, toured Kampong Cham and Kratie provinces Monday and Tuesday before returning to the capital where today it will try to raise awareness of cluster munitions, millions of which are still littered across large swathes of Cambodia.
...THE LEGACIES OF WAR LIKE CLUSTER BOMBS SHOULD BE ELIMINATED.
During their trip through the provinces, organisers said they collected some 400 signatures, in addition to the 16,000 already given so far in Cambodia, and recorded the personal histories of cluster bomb victims.
The signatures will be part of a petition presented this December in Norway at the signing of an international ban on cluster bombs in Norway.
"A huge part of the [Ban Bus] is to raise awareness for international donors and to show that this is still affecting Cambodia. We'll be able to say, ‘Look, thousands of Cambodians have signed this treaty' and to share the stories of the victims with the donors," said Alex Hiniker, a communications and advocacy officer at UNDP.
Between 1969 and 1973, the US dropped about 80,000 cluster bombs on Cambodia during its secret bombing campaigns, scattering more
than 26 million submunitions, according to Handicap International.
About one third of these submunitions failed to explode.
Cluster munitions ban
The cluster munitions ban would prohibit the production, sale and transfer of these weapons, as well as require signature countries to meet victim assistance standards and clearance regulations.
To date, more than 107 countries have agreed to sign the treaty, but the world's largest producers of cluster bombs are conspicuously absent.
The US, Russia and China have given no indication that they will sign the ban.
Cambodia was the first country that pledged to sign the ban and has taken a leading role in trying to convince other countries to follow suit.
But Cambodia will need donor support to live up to its promises of assisting victims and clearing land of the submunitions, officials say.
Penh Vibol, a Buddhist monk who is a member of Religions for Peace, said, "This country has been victimised by cluster bombs. Cambodia is tired of war and bombs. The legacies war like cluster bombs should be eliminated."