Thursday, 6 August 2009

It's not just Darfur + Hiroshima

Another conflict in southern Sudan has now claimed more lives this year than the violence in Darfur over which President Omar Hassan al-Bashir faces charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. (See my blog of March 5th)

At least 185 Lou Nuer people were killed on Sunday when they were attacked by men from the Murle ethnic group. According to the United Nations, most of the dead were women and children. The conflict, which is being exacerbated by food shortages, has claimed more than 700 lives this year.

On this day…..64 years ago, an American B-29 dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Those close to ground zero were vaporised immediately, and over the days that followed, many more died from injuries, burns and the effects of radiation – taking the death toll to 92,000 in the first two weeks. Illnesses caused by radiation would continue to claim lives for years after, taking the total number of victims to at least 140,000.

The area around the epicentre is now the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, and one of its main features is the so-called A-bomb dome – the remains of the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, the closest building to the epicentre to survive in any recognisable form. I remember visiting the area in 1993, and the thing that sticks in my mind is how the traffic lights by the dome cheerily pealed out Coming through the Rye when it was time to cross.

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