On 6 and 9 August 1945, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Tens of thousands were killed by the blast and fireball that destroyed the cities, and many more died of radiation sickness and injuries in the days and months that followed. In total 140,000 dead by 1945’s end.

The people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are not the only victims of nuclear weapons. Still today there are catastrophic consequences for communities around nuclear test sites. People and communities in for example the Marshall Islands, Kazakhstan, Algeria, French Polynesia, as well as many veterans and military staff present during testing, have experienced the devastating effects from these weapons.

Around 20,000 nuclear weapons still exist today, each of them able to unleash a humanitarian catastrophe. In November 2011, the Red Cross and Red Crescent stated that if nuclear weapons were used today, any attempts at responding to the humanitarian needs of survivors or provide any relief to victims would be utterly overwhelmed. Even a limited, regional nuclear war would have global health and humanitarian consequences on a scale never seen before.

The humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons are becoming increasingly important for giving impetus to their elimination, especially in a financial and environmental climate in which it is not only the use of nuclear weapons that has negative and lasting impacts on the safety and security of humanity and the planet, but also their continued possession and modernization.

Today, on the anniversary of the catastrophic atomic bombing of Hiroshima, it’s essential that we remember history and make sure it’s never repeated again. It’s time to ban nuclear weapons for good!

For more information on banning nuclear weapons, see the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. WILPF was one of the first organizations to become a partner of this campaign.