Sunday, October 29, 2006

"Popcorn" bombs

It is estimated that Israeli bombings of Lebanon left more than a million unexploded cluster bombs and anti-personnel weapons. Few lie around in Yasmine´s garden. Yasmine is 11 years old from a small village in the south of Lebanon and a good tour guide around her family´s garden showing you the remaining unexploded cluster bombs. Two to give a count, one is hiding high in the grape vine and the other next to a little rock. They look nonthreatening, just little odd metal canisters calling to be removed. But Yasmine is good at protecting you; she asks you firmly not to touch them nor get close to them only to laugh later as she teases you that you can never know when the one on the grape vine would fall; "so you´d better be ready to run". “Sometimes brown vine leaves fall and we would run thinking it is the bomb... it is very scary. But after we run and hide and notice it is just a vine leave we laugh a lot. Only Allah knows when will it fall; I hope it falls when we are out on a visit, this way it will explode and we will get rid of it without getting hurt.”

Everybody speaks of the cluster bombs in the south. Ask anyone and you will get stories of where they were found, or how someone died or got amputated as a result of one. A daily fear that we are living with these days turned into a nightmare with the begining of the rain season – rainwater covering the bomblets with mud. Rain can smoothly push some bombs under rocks, can pat the grass on top of others and even bury it totally with mud. The rain started, and so did the nightmare. It is you and your luck with your life in your hand for years to come. So walk, move, touch and look carefully... it can be anywhere, and one tiny mistake is fatal. Read on!