Cluster bombs found in an olive grove in Southern Lebanon. CREDIT: Simon Conway/ Landmine Action
February 21, 2008
Like many children, Zahra, 11, was attracted
by the small size and curious shape of the cluster bomblet
that injured her. The UN estimates that up to one million
cluster bomblets, including those with self-destruct
mechanisms, remained unexploded on the ground in Southern
Lebanon after conflict ended in 2006. CREDIT: Alison
1. Zahra Hussein Soufan, 12,
"My sister found it
and gave it to me. As I took it from her it fell on the
ground and when I picked it up it blew up and hurt my hand.
I fell down on the ground and my friends carried me
"My mum took me to the doctor and he said my hand
had to be cut off. My mum started crying so they took me to
the hospital and did an operation.
"It was very loud
when it went off. It burst my ears. I couldnít hear much
afterwards. My sister was with me. She got shrapnel in her
finger and she couldnít hear.
"It hurts a lot and it
always feels cold. I keep having to warm it up.
canít play. I donít go out. I used to have fun with my
friends. But I canít play with them anymore. They keep
teasing me about my fingers and they tease me about my thumb
Ė that it wonít grow back.
I just want my thumb to
grow back and my hand to be ok. Thatís
Jwaia, Zahraís mother:
"It was the
middle of Ramadan and we were having our evening meal. My
daughter was going out afterwards to a religious recital.
Just after she left we heard a loud bang. Her sister had
gone out to play and found something like a toy in the
Zahra said it was shaped like a
colouring box with a kind of pyramid on top. As soon as she
picked it up it exploded and blew her thumb off.
neighbour picked it Zahraís thumb up in a handkerchief and
brought it to us. We thought maybe it could be saved if
they re-attached it straight away."
Dtar lost both his arms after finding a
cluster bomblet while fishing with his sons in Laos.
Thousands of people worldwide have been permanently disabled
or killed by cluster bombs, either during attacks or in the
years afterwards. CREDIT: Alison Locke
"One day in 2003 I took my two boys
down to the river to go fishing. I found a cluster bomb in
the water and picked it up because I wanted to use it as an
explosive, to blow up in the river so that we could catch
more fish. But it went off in my hands and blew off my
"Now we are getting poorer because I lost both
my arms and I canít work to support my family.
lucky at least, because they sorted me out with one
artificial arm. My right arm was blown right off by the
explosion and they had to amputate my left arm twice,
because it was infected after the first amputation, so they
had to cut it off higher up.
"The bomb also blew up
right in my face and eyes. I couldnít see anything. My
sight was blurry until I went to hospital again in 2005,
when my relatives had saved up enough money again to pay for
"My wife and the family earn all the
money to support us now. One of my sons had to leave school
so that he could help my wife. Heís only 15. I help as I
can. I look after the vegetables and sweep the house. I
help my wife in the fields a bit but I am not much use."
Click to enlarge
and Safia Husseinís family have been living off tobacco
and olive cultivation for decades. Three days of cluster
bombardment during the 2006 conflict in Southern Lebanon has
left their crops littered with hundreds of unexploded
cluster bombs. Their livelihood has been destroyed. CREDIT:
Simon Conway/ Landmine Action
Fatimah, 37 and Safia, 23, Southern Lebanon
and Fatimah Husseinís village was subject to heavy cluster
bomb bombardment during the last 72 hours of conflict in
While the cluster bombs have been
cleared from inside their house, their olive groves and
tobacco crops are littered with hundreds of unexploded
"It was horrible for
us, during the war we used to go out and gather drinking
water from the well and people from nearby would also go and
get food for us. But after the cluster bombardment I could
not go outside for three days because bomblets were
"When they were firing the cluster bombs I
felt like the house would drop. Many bomblets burst through
the wall and came into the house and I started to panic.
The attacks lasted for one and a half hours and then they
cooled down for one hour and then they started again.
heard the sound of each cluster bomb shell for five minutes,
like popcorn. We never saw any military activity in this
area. We were the targets, the civilians.
"We had no
water for one and a half days until Hezbollah came to clear
so we could get access to water and food. Then after
Hezbollah the army came to continue clearing roads and
houses. But you see we still have so many bomblets here in
"I am training to be a nurse at college, but
I have had to take leave from my studies to help my mother
pick what little remains of the tobacco crop. My brothers
are too young to understand the threat from the unexploded
submunitions so they are not allowed to help pick the
"We have lost our
tobacco season and our olive season. We have been
harvesting tobacco and growing olives from this land for our
whole lives. Now because of the war and the cluster
munitions we have lost everything.
"We cannot plough our
land and we cannot plant seeds for the