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Last Updated: Monday, 7 March, 2005, 11:37 GMT
World 'failing' on dumped weapons
British troops clear unexploded ordnance in Kenya
Governments are seeking to take action to control munitions
Most of the world's governments are making light of problems caused by unexploded munitions, the UK-based agency Landmine Action has said.

A report by the agency, published on Monday, said more than 90 countries were contaminated by explosive remnants of war and 56 by anti-vehicle mines.

Abandoned munitions were claiming lives and hampering aid efforts, it said.

It comes as world military powers meet in Geneva this week for the UN's Convention on Conventional Weapons.

They will discuss possible action to control the munitions.

I have just come back from Sudan - while I was there, a young boy found an unexploded grenade, took it home, threw it on the fire and killed his whole family
Richard Lloyd
Landmine Action director

But Landmine Action says it fears that the countries will fail again to produce an agreement that would make a practical difference to the lives of ordinary people.

The survey deals with munitions not covered by the 1999 Ottawa Convention on anti-personnel mines.

That agreement commits its signatories to the immediate stoppage of production and use of anti-personnel mines, destruction of stockpiles and clearance of territory within 10 years.

The US and other Ottawa non-signatories are attending the Geneva meeting.

'Not adequately tackled'

Landmine Action director Richard Lloyd said the survey showed the scale of the problem had been vastly underrated.

"It is a massive problem that is simply not being adequately tackled by most countries," he told Reuters news agency. "Many governments have to put far more resources than they currently are into dealing with this."

"I have just come back from Sudan," he added. "While I was there, a young boy found an unexploded grenade. He took it home, threw it on the fire and killed his whole family."

One specific problem highlighted by the survey was cluster bombs, reported in 17 countries or territories.

The report mentioned a number of areas of concern:

  • More than 2,200 sites containing cluster bombs have been found along the valleys of Iraq's Tigris and Euphrates rivers

  • There are thought to be around 800 rubbish dumps around Baghdad contaminated by cluster bombs and abandoned munitions

  • In Kosovo, 80% of casualties are caused by explosive remnants rather than mines; there are still 75 cluster bomb sites left over from the 1999 Nato bombing campaign

  • Forty-five routes in Sudan's central Nuba mountains have been identified as "high-risk, suspect or reportedly mined"

  • Hundreds of thousands of abandoned and unexploded ordnance from World War II are still found each year in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus

  • Accidents at firing ranges in Kenya have led to 1,280 villagers received compensation payments totalling $9.5m from the UK government

  • Anti-vehicle mines block access in all 18 provinces of Angola, preventing distribution of humanitarian aid and denying freedom of movement to thousands of internally displaced people and other civilians.

US 'hurting' anti-mine campaign
30 Nov 04 |  Africa
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27 Feb 04 |  Americas
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10 Sep 03 |  In Depth

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