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Remembering the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

By David Yun
 
75 years ago, atomic bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The scale of the destruction which resulted from their use was unprecedented; the immediate blast killed over 150,000 people. (Some estimates put the death toll closer to 200,000). The suffering caused by the destruction and nuclear fallout continues to this day.
 Photo of atomic bombs
The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki completely overwhelmed the humanitarian response capabilities of that time. In light of what we now know about the repercussions of using nuclear weapons, as well as the requirements of modern International Humanitarian Law, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement continues to ask countries to take steps to eliminate nuclear weapons and ensure that they are never used again.
 
These weapons do not discern between military targets and civilian structures, meaning everything would be destroyed within range of the blast. Due to the life-threatening amount of radiation present, there would be major challenges to delivering critical humanitarian aid.
 
The use of nuclear weapons causes incalculable human suffering. 75 years ago, in an instant, tens of thousands of people lost their lives with thousands more dying of radiation exposure and other causes in the years that followed. In the decades since, the Japanese Red Cross has treated countless survivors and their descendants, affected by the radiation.
 
By today’s standards, the atomic weapons used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are considered obsolete. In the decades that followed, countries have continued to develop their own weapons. As a result, the number of countries that poses nuclear weapons has increased. Sadly, nuclear weapons have been further developed to be considerably more destructive. Now, they can be deployed through guided missiles with targeted deployment as opposed to aerial bombing, but the radiation from nuclear fallout cannot be controlled or directed.
 
The impacts of a nuclear attack may no longer be in public memory, but the possibility of one being used remains ever present.
 
Concerns about the existence of nuclear weapons and the risk of intentional or accidental nuclear detonation led to the creation of various legal instruments to prevent and regulate the proliferation, testing, use, and disarmament of nuclear weapons. The most recent legal initiative is the adoption by 122 countries of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which would create a legal basis for the total prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons as more countries decide to sign onto it.
 
That said, close to 14,000 nuclear weapons exist today and despite the development of these international commitments and obligations, nuclear weapons continue to be manufactured and some governments still argue the legality of their use. We continue to ask that governments ensure nuclear weapons are never used again so that humanitarian assistance is never needed as a result and never fails to arrive.



 
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