A young boy named Poey clasps his ears as a clearance team detonates a bombie in his family’s farm field. Poey’s father had risked considerable danger by moving the bomb to a tree so Poey and other children would not find the bomb.
On May 30, 111 countries adopted a treaty to ban cluster bombs. Some of the world’s biggest users of these munitionsâ€”the United States, China, Russia and Israelâ€”did not sign the treaty. But the agreement, nonetheless, is a big step toward victory for activists who have fought decades to rid the world of these explosives.
What are cluster bombs? Large canisters filled with hundreds of tiny bomblets, or “bombies.” The canisters open in the sky, spreading little fist-sized bombies across the targeted land. Some of these bomblets are painted bright yellow and look like miniature pineapplesâ€”kids can mistake them for toys. A bombie can lie in the ground for decades until someone kicks it, tosses it or smacks it with a hoe.
What’s it like to farm in a land littered with bombies? Read more about the dangerous fields of Laos.