The Washington Post
WASHINGTON – The Pentagon announced Thursday it would change the color of air-dropped food packets from yellow to blue after United Nations and human rights groups said they might be confused with the yellow canisters of unexploded bomblets from the cluster bombs dropped in Afghanistan.
“It is unfortunate that the cluster bombs – the unexploded ones – are the same color as the food packets,” said Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He said both the packets and the bomblets were yellow so they would be easily visible.
“Unfortunately, they get used to running to yellow,” he said, noting the possibility that Afghan civilians might mistake a bomblet for a food packet. He said he did not know how long it would take to change the food packet color. “That, obviously, will take some time,” he said, “because there are many in the pipeline.”
But Human Rights Watch said the Pentagon should stop dropping the cluster bombs, which it said posed a particular hazard to civilians regardless of the color of the food packets. Because these weapons spread bomblets over such wide areas and because the bomblets frequently fail to explode on impact, Human Rights Watch said, they “cause unacceptable civilian casualties both during and after conflict.”
Changing the food packet color “solves one little problem,” said Joost Hiltermann, head of the arms division of Human Rights Watch.