Local activists under the Association of Landmine Survivors and Amputees of Rwanda and other Cases of Disabilities (ALSAR), on Friday, congratulated the Government of Rwanda upon ratifying the international Convention on Cluster Munitions CCM.
The Convention on Cluster Munitions is an international treaty that addresses the humanitarian consequences and unacceptable harm to civilians caused by cluster munitions, through a categorical prohibition and a framework for action.
The government signed the convention in Oslo, Norway, on December 3, 2008, but it ratified it in December 2014, essentially making Rwanda officially free from the use of cluster bombs, the development or stockpiling of the arms or assisting any country in acquiring or using the arms.
A cluster munition is a form of air-dropped or ground-launched explosive weapon that releases or ejects smaller sub-munitions. It is a cluster bomb that ejects explosive bomblets that are designed to kill people and destroy vehicles.
Other cluster munitions are designed to destroy runways or electric power transmission lines, disperse chemical or biological weapons, or to scatter land mines.
Members of ALSAR, gathered in Kigali, hailed the Government of Rwanda for outlawing the use of the arms and resolving to promote the CCM treaty in the country and abroad, as well as root for better living standards of survivors of landmines in the country.
The legal representative of ALSAR, Rose Kanyamfura, said Rwanda is currently free from the use of cluster bombs, but noted that its neighbours also need to be encouraged to end the use of the arms.
The Convention on Cluster Munitions prohibits all use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions.
It also establishes a framework for cooperation and assistance to ensure adequate care and rehabilitation of survivors of the use of the arms and their communities, clearance of contaminated areas, risk reduction education and destruction of stockpiles.
Experts say cluster munitions are unacceptable for two reasons. Firstly, they affect a wide area and are unable to distinguish between civilians and combatants. Secondly, the use of cluster munitions leaves behind large numbers of dangerous unexploded ordnance. Their remnants kill and injure civilians, obstruct economic and social development, and have other severe consequences that persist for years and decades after use
At the meeting, members of ALSAR committed to sensitising Rwandans about the Convention on Cluster Munitions, raise awareness about the existence of survivors of landmines in Rwanda and advocate for their support, as well as continue to raise awareness about the need to support any other people living with disabilities.
ALSAR currently has 30 members but it remains open for any other people who may want to join, Kanyamfura said.
The chairman of the Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission, Jean Sayinzoga, congratulated members of ALSAR for creating an organisation with an important cause.
The meeting attracted about 40 people, including ALSAR members, representatives of civil society organisations and the Rwanda National Police, as well as Government.