Study: Serbs still in danger from cluster bombs (Serbia)
BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) - Thousands of civilians in Serbia remain in danger from unexploded cluster bombs left over from the 1999 NATO bombing of the country, according to a new report released Tuesday by a humanitarian aid group.
The study by Norwegian People's Aid says cluster bombs are scattered unevenly in 15 municipalities throughout the Balkan country where 160,000 people live.
Half of those people are in direct danger from the bombs, said Miroslav Pisarevic, who took part in the project funded by Norway's Foreign Ministry. Serbia needs about euro30 million ($37.7 million) for a clean up, the report said.
NATO launched the air war to force Serbia to end a crackdown against separatists in Kosovo. It used cluster bombs on several occasions during the attacks.
Fired by artillery or dropped by aircraft, cluster bombs are canisters that open in flight and eject dozens or hundreds of small bomblets. But some fail to explode immediately, lying dormant for years until they are disturbed.
"Those cluster bombs are a permanent threat," said Pisarevic. He said that 27 people were killed by the cluster bombs during the NATO raids, while 152 were wounded.
After the war, four more people died from unexploded cluster bombs, while eight more were wounded, Pisarevic said.
Last year, 93 countries signed an international treaty urging a ban on cluster bombs, destruction of stockpiles and assistance to the victims. But some of the major producers and users, such as the U.S., Russia and China, have not signed the treaty.
Thomas Nash, the coordinator of the Cluster Munition Coalition, criticized Serbia for its failure to join the treaty. Nash said Serbian leaders had been supportive of the treaty but have changed their policy without explanation.
There was no immediate comment from Serbian authorities.
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Von: 10.03.2009, www.google.com