EU calls on Russia, Georgia to clear cluster bombs
France, speaking on behalf of European Union, appeals to Russia and Georgia authorities to rapidly clear unexploded cluster bombs from Georgian regions.3 September 2008
PARIS -- France on Tuesday called on Russia and Georgia to rapidly clear unexploded cluster bombs from any Georgian regions where they may have been used.
French foreign ministry spokesman Eric Chevallier said the situation was "extremely worrying" and called on the "Russian and Georgian authorities to do everything possible without delay to secure and clean up sites contaminated by these weapons."
"We have information according to which cluster bombs seem to have been used. This information must be verified," he said, adding that he was speaking on behalf of both France and the European Union.
He said the cluster bomb issue showed the importance of letting international observers work in the zones affected by the conflict which saw Russian troops enter Georgia on 8 August, a day after Georgia's bid to bring rebel South Ossetia back under central control.
Chevallier said his reports on the use of cluster bombs in Georgia came from various non-governmental organisations such as Human Rights Watch (HRW).
HRW said Monday that Georgia had admitted to using cluster bombs during the conflict. It had accused Moscow of using the same weapons in August.
HRW cluster bomb expert Bonnie Docherty said the group had "firm evidence"
that Russia had used cluster munitions.
Dropped from planes or fired from artillery, cluster bombs explode in mid-air, scattering bomblets, and pose a lasting threat to civilian populations. Many bomblets fail to explode on impact and act as landmines.
An international convention banning cluster munitions was formally adopted by 111 countries in Ireland in May, in a move that organisers hoped would stigmatise the lethal weapons as much as landmines.
Neither Russia nor Georgia took part in the convention.
[AFP / Expatica]