The use of cluster munitions sows concern in Nagorno-Karabakh

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The hens turn around the small unexploded device, planted in the middle of the henhouse. In Stepanakert, capital of the Armenian separatists of Nagorno-Karabakh, the inhabitants find cluster munitions coming from a rocket, however prohibited by an international convention.

Two-thirds buried in the earth, recognizable by its black plastic fins that emerge, the intact cylindrical sub-munition about twenty centimeters long was discovered by the owners of the garden at the henhouse, after one of the many bombings. Azerbaijani who struck the city and its surroundings last week.

They said "there is something in the garden, I don't know what it is", so I told them I could explain it to them, Arayik Arakelyan, from the NGO Halo Trust, told the press, was present in Stepanakert and raised awareness of the danger of these ammunition to the few inhabitants still present in the city and cloistered in cellars.

According to Greg Polson, technical advisor to the NGO, this sub-munition called 9N235 is one of the 72 that can be carried by a Smertch.

These Soviet-designed rockets have repeatedly struck the separatist capital, yet far from the front, since the beginning of the fighting on September 27 between Armenians and Azerbaijanis, who are fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Nagorno-Karabakh.

The conflict has left more than 620 dead, according to a partial death toll which could be much heavier, with Azerbaijan not reporting the deaths among its troops.

Near the house in the henhouse, the long tube ripped open and folded with Smertch is stuck on the balcony of a building emptied of its occupants.

A long metal tube rests on a partially destroyed balcony.

The long gutted tube of a “Smertch” rocket is clearly visible on the balcony of a building located not far from the henhouse.

Photo: Getty Images / AFP / ARIS MESSINIS

Pointed out, Baku denies using such weapons

In a report published on Wednesday, Karabakh human rights defender Artak Beglaryan denounced Azerbaijan's use of these rockets with cluster munitions, notably on Stepanakert, Shusha or Hadrut.

From September 27 to October 10, the state of emergency service of the Republic of Artsakh (the Armenian denomination of Nagorno-Karabakh, Editor's note) found more than 180 cluster munitions only in Stepanakert.

Artak Beglaryan, Karabakh human rights defender

For its part, Baku has always denied using such weapons, which, unexploded, represent a danger to civilians years after being dropped.

Amnesty International reported on October 5 that it had corroborated information on their use, denounced by videos published by Armenian sources.

A map of the Caucasus highlighting Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenia and Azerbaijan clash in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Google

NGO experts were able to locate the residential areas of Stepanakert where these images were filmed, and identified cluster munitions of another type, Israeli-made M095 DPICM, which appears to have been fired by Azerbaijani forces, according to the Amnesty statement.

Israel is a major supplier of arms to Azerbaijan.

The use of cluster munitions is prohibited under all circumstances under international humanitarian law, according to a Convention concluded in Dublin on May 30, 2008, recalled Denis Krivosheev, director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty.

The danger of cluster munitions that do not explode

The NGO estimates that <q data-attributes = "{" lang ": {" value ":" fr "," label ":" Français "}," value ": {" html ":" between 5% and 20% of cluster munitions do not explode. They are then left in place, which poses a threat to civilians similar to that of anti-personnel landmines "," text ":" between 5% and 20% of cluster munitions do not explode. They are then left in place, which poses a threat to civilians similar to that of anti-personnel landmines "}}" lang = "en”>between 5% and 20% of cluster munitions do not explode. They are then left behind, posing a threat to civilians similar to that of anti-personnel landmines..

To date, a total of 123 states have joined the Dublin Convention on Cluster Munitions. Armenia and Azerbaijan are not among them.

A man holding flyers in one hand speaks to a small group of women in a basement.

A member of the NGO Halo Trust raises awareness about cluster munitions in an underground shelter used by residents of Stepanakert.

Photo: Getty Images / AFP / ARIS MESSINIS

In front of the small finned machine planted in the henhouse, Koen van der West, from the NGO Halo Trust, explains that at the moment half of the inhabitants (of Nagorno-Karabakh) have left the region.

The greatest risk will be when people come back to their homes, their gardens, their balconies, and find this stuff. They may be injured, even after the bombardments have stopped.

Koen van der West, from the NGO Halo Trust

Many are very attractive to children, adds Greg Polson, as they almost look like toys, some have pink ribbons attached. When they find them, children can pull (on the tape), play with them, throw them, it's a real risk.

This one looks like a badminton shuttlecock, which makes it a danger to children, he said, pointing to the machine in the middle of the restless hens.

To read also:

  • Conflict escalates between Azerbaijan and Armenia
  • Resumption of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan


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