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Pacific people often marginalised in discussions on nuclear testing

Pacific people often marginalised in discussions on nuclear testing

Photo: Peter Williams/WCC

17 March 2020

World Council of Churches (WCC) programme executive for Human Rights and Disarmament Jennifer Philpot-Nissen told a parliamentary standing committee in Fiji that victims of nuclear testing in the Pacific are often marginalized, and the consequences of the testing in the region have largely remained invisible and unaddressed by the wider world.

Philpot-Nissen was offering a statement from the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs before the Standing Committee of Foreign Affairs and Defence of the Parliament of Fiji in Support of Fiji's Ratification of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

“'Victims and their descendants continue to suffer from the impacts upon their health, the degradation of their environment and pollution of their waters. Very few people have received compensation or adequate assistance for the consequences they have suffered,” she said.

A WCC delegation accompanied by the Pacific Conference of Churches was to have visited Kiritimati Island in Kiribati this month to speak to survivors of the 1957-58 nuclear tests conducted by the United Kingdom.

The visit was cancelled due to Kiribati's travel restrictions linked to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

''The purpose of the visit was and we hope will still be, to raise awareness - particularly in the UK - of the ongoing impacts of the nuclear testing coupled with the effects of climate change, and to demonstrate solidarity with the citizens of Kiribati. We hope to lift up related situations in the region - in particular the Marshall Islands and in Maohi Nui/French Polynesia - through similar visits later on,'' Philpot-Nissen said.

“We support the engagement of churches around the world with the mechanisms of the UN, particularly the human rights system, and we encourage churches and their partners to ensure that the full range of voices of their constituents are heard, right down to the smallest child,” reads the statement. “We have advocated for a ban on the development, production, testing and use of nuclear weapons since the first weapons were used over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945.”

 

WCC work on disarmament