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UN Chief Urges Freeze On Use Of Cluster Bombs

A Lebanese boy holds an unexploded cluster bomb, one of many fired by Israeli forces during the war in Lebanon this summer (AFP) November 7, 2006 -- UN Secretary General Kofi Annan today urged a freeze on the use of cluster bombs in or near populated areas.

Annan's call was echoed during the day by the UN's humanitarian chief, Jan Egland, who demanded an immediate global freeze on cluster munitions.

The UN's calls come a day after the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) called for a halt to the use of cluster bombs. The ICRC also said it would call a conference in 2007 to discuss a possible new global pact on the bombs.

Cluster bombs contain small pellet explosives that spread over a wide area. They are not banned by any international treaty. Belgium is the only country to have banned their production and use.

Last week, a report from he NGO Handicap International said that 98 percent of all recorded casualties of cluster bombs are civilians.

(AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)