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Tamil survivors bear phosphorous burns – report

[TamilNet, Monday, 11 May 2009 06:50 No Comment]

Tamil civilians who escaped the Sri Lankan military bombardment, treated by French doctors, included those with injuries from phosphorous bombs, AFP reported. Doctors at the French field hospital Cheddikulam, Vavuniya said that among those who were treated were those with white hands, possibly caused by burns from phosphorus- an incendiary weapon which is banned from use in civilian areas under an international convention. According to Peter Herby, head of the ICRC’s (International Committee of the Red Cross) Arms Unit, there are specific rules on the use of white phosphorous that go beyond the general rules of war.

“The use of weapons containing white phosphorous is, like the use of any other weapon, regulated by the basic rules of international humanitarian law. require parties to a conflict to discriminate between military objectives on the one hand and civilians and civilian objects on the other,” he said.

“[However] using white phosphorous as an incendiary weapon, i.e. to set fire to military targets, is subject to further restrictions.”

“The use of such white phosphorous weapons against any military objective within concentrations of civilians is prohibited unless the military objective is clearly separated from the civilians.

“The use of air-dropped incendiary weapons against military objectives within a concentration of civilians is simply prohibited. These prohibitions are contained in Protocol III of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.”

The AFP report on the treatment of burnt Tamil civilians being treated by French doctors was reproduced in the Daily Mirror newspaper.

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