THE UNITED States' refusal to sign the international treaty on landmines has been condemned by Bishop John Crowley of Middlesbrough..
This week in Ottawa, Canada, 120 countries, including Britain, signed an agreement to end the production, development, sales and stockpiling of antipersonal landmines. In addition, the countries have committed themselves to clearing landmines and assisting those injured by them.
The United States, along with Iraq, Iran, China and several other countries, refused to sign the treaty.
Bishop Crowley said that the treaty was great news and an example of people power, but added that he was dismayed America had joined I and several other countries in rejecting it.
"We look to America for moral leadership. The economic and military factors are clouding the wider humanitarian concerns. People should be saying to President Clinton that on this issue you are not representing your people. Landmines are now on the same agenda as biological and chemical weapons."
There are an estimated 110 million active landmines scattered around over 70 countries, one for every 17 children or 52 people in the world. Another 110 million are stockpiled. Every 20 minutes someone in the world is killed or injured by a landmine.
Bishop Crowley also praised the work of Cafod, which has been campaigning against landmines since 1995 when it organised a tour of Britain by Cambodian mine victim Tun Channereth, who will accept this year's Nobel Peace prize on behalf of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.
"However," added the bishop, " until the treaty is ratified landmines are still not banned and we need to keep the pressure on to help clear minefields and help the victims."