Commemorating 70 years since the atomic bombing - statement by Mr Tadateru Konoé, President of the IFRC

Published: 18 August 2015

“Nuclear weapons are an affront to our humanity. They must never be used again. Our goal should be their complete elimination”. This has been the stance of the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement since August 1945.

Our mission focuses on alleviating suffering, protecting life and health and ensuring the dignity of all people, and we have been accompanying the victims of war for 150 years since the birth of our Movement. Our stance on nuclear weapons is based on our mission and experience.

On 9 August, 70 years ago, the Red Cross was here with the people of Nagasaki. In the moments after the atomic bomb struck its annihilating blow, our nurses headed out to relief posts across the city, risking their lives to assist those affected. The Director of a Naval Hospital in a neighbouring city, where some of our nurses had been on duty, recalled that they were determined to go into Nagasaki, despite knowing the risk of being exposed to radiation. Since then, the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement has voiced its concern, based on these experiences, that any relief operation launched in the aftermath of a nuclear weapon detonation would be grossly inadequate and unable to meet the needs of victims.

We should not forget some of the victims of the atomic bomb were foreigners. All of you have experienced the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, consequences that are both indiscriminate and horrific. You have experienced impacts that span both space and time, even travelling across generations. We, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, salute you for your resilience in carrying such a heavy burden, and for your courage in actively sharing your experiences with the world so that no other city would face the same tragedy.

Seventy years ago, there were other Japanese cities listed as potential targets of the atomic bombing instead of Nagasaki. With nuclear weapons still in existence, the tragedy of Nagasaki can befall anybody, anytime and anywhere. For the victims of the atomic bombing, there is no better comfort than realizing a world free from nuclear weapons. The only option is for States to prohibit their use and completely eliminate them. This is the only way to guarantee that they will never be used again. The International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, hand in hand with the people of Nagasaki, will spare no effort in advocating for the elimination of nuclear weapons as soon as possible.

Tadateru Konoé
President, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
On behalf of the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement