Ahern calls for cluster bomb ban

Cluster bombs should be banned in international conflicts, the Government warned today. Foreign Affairs Minster Dermot Ahern made the call as he visited Lebanon where up to one million such munitions lie unexploded in local hills.


The Lebanese government claims Israeli defence forces dropped the anti-personnel bombs during the month-long conflict with Hezbollah last summer.
"The bombs can maim or kill innocent children and adults and must be outlawed," Mr Ahern said.
"Until they are cleared, farmers cannot work in their fields in safety and children cannot play in gardens or fields."

The minister today visited 157 Irish troops in Lebanon who help clear surrounding fields of cluster bombs using hi-tech mine-sweeping machines.

The Irish UNIFIL contingent, drawn from the 34th Infantry Group, is stationed at Camp Ida to monitor a truce between Hizbollah and Israel.

Last summer's conflict resulted in hundreds of civilian causalities and millions of euro in damage to infrastructure in Lebanon. Ireland has pledged a total of €5 million to the reconstruction fund.

Mr Ahern, who was winding up a four-day visit to the Middle East, also held talks with Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora in Beirut.

Since Tuesday, the minister held discussions on the Middle East peace process with members of the Israeli, Palestinian and Egyptian governments.

Mr Ahern also announced a €11.4 million aid package to support Palestinian refugees living in the Occupied Territories, as well as in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

Von: 02.02.2007, Ireland.com

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