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Cluster Munition Deaths in Ukraine Pass Syria, Fueling Rise in a Weapon the World Has Tried to Ban

Rawaa al-Hassan, 12, who lost her eye to a cluster bomb in 2022, poses for a photograph at a camp near the town of Ain Sheeb, northern Idlib province, Syria, on July 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Omar Albam)
Rawaa al-Hassan, 12, who lost her eye to a cluster bomb in 2022, poses for a photograph at a camp near the town of Ain Sheeb, northern Idlib province, Syria, on July 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Omar Albam)

More than 300 people were killed and over 600 wounded by cluster munitions in Ukraine in 2022, according to an international watchdog, surpassing Syria as the country with the highest number of casualties from the controversial weapons for the first time in a decade.

Russia’s widespread use of the bombs, which open in the air and release scores of smaller bomblets or submunitions as they are called, in its invasion of Ukraine — and, to a lesser extent, their use by Ukrainian forces — helped make 2022 the deadliest year on record globally, according to the annual report released Tuesday by the Cluster Munition Coalition, a network of non-governmental organizations advocating for a ban of the weapons.

The deadliest attack in Ukraine, according to the country’s prosecutor general’s office, was a bombing on a railway station in the town of Kramatorsk that killed 53 people and wounded 135.

Meanwhile, in Syria and other war-battered countries in the Middle East, although active fighting has cooled down, the explosive remnants continue to kill and maim dozens of people every year.

The long-term danger posed to civilians by explosive ordnance peppered across the landscape for years — or even decades after fighting has ceased — has come under a renewed spotlight since the United States announced in July that it would provide them to Ukraine to use against Russia.

Related Story: Key U.S. Allies Break with Biden Over Shipping Cluster Bombs to Ukraine

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