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Friday, May 17, 2024

Central America is world’s first cluster bomb-free region, says Costa Rica official

SAN JOSÉ — From Guatemala down to Panama, Central America has become the world’s first region to declare itself free from cluster bombs, officials said Tuesday.

The weapons, which eject explosive bomblets, have killed some 55,000 people worldwide in the past five years, experts say.

Belize’s accession to the treaty banning them means they join the rest of Central America — Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.

“With Belize joining in, Central America becomes the first region in the world free of cluster munitions,” Christian Guillermet, a Costa Rican diplomat working with UN bodies in Geneva, told reporters.

Central America was rocked by several civil wars in the 1970s and 1980s.

“So it’s important for us as a region that has been victim of wars to send such a clear message about our commitment to peace and development,” Guillermet said.

Norway led the effort to get countries to agree to ban the highly destructive weapons.

The treaty took effect in August 2010 with signatories opting not to make, store or use them.

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