It has been reported that the Thai authorities have used cluster munitions in Cambodia. Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre commented: “If these reports are true, this is a very serious matter.”
According to reports, Thailand used cluster munitions in February this year in connection with a border conflict with Cambodia. Norwegian People’s Aid, which works in both Thailand and Cambodia, recently visited the area around the disputed Preah Vihear temple. The NGO has now reported that cluster munitions of the type M42/M46 and M85 have been found. Several people are believed to have been killed or injured in the conflict, and many fled from the area. Now that people are returning to their villages, the unexploded ordnance puts them at serious risk.
“Norway condemns all use of cluster munitions. These weapons kill and maim civilians and have unacceptable humanitarian consequences long after they are used,” said Mr Støre. “South East Asia is a region that is already badly affected, and the incident on the border between Cambodia and Thailand demonstrates clearly why this weapon is now prohibited.
Cluster munitions are area weapons that do not distinguish between military and civilian targets, and they cause great suffering among civilians both during and long after conflicts.
“The report, which was drawn up by the Cluster Munition Coalition and Norwegian People’s Aid, shows how important it was to establish the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which bans the use of these weapons. Continued efforts are needed to persuade even more countries to join. I urge both Thailand and Cambodia to become parties to the convention as soon as possible and to cooperate on preventing more people from being killed or injured by these weapons,” said Mr Støre.
Together with various humanitarian organisations and the UN, Norway contributes to the clearance of unexploded ordnance and support for victims of cluster munitions, land mines and other explosives all over the world.