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No way to deliver assistance in the event of a nuclear explosion via International Committee of the Red Cross

The ICRC warns that, as things stand, there is no effective way of delivering humanitarian assistance to victims of a nuclear blast. The stark message was given to delegates at an international conference organized by the Norwegian government in Oslo on 4-5 March, to consider the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. Gregor Malich, an ICRC expert on the operational response to nuclear disasters and similar events, is attending the meeting. He gives the background to the issues and explains what the ICRC is trying to achieve.

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What are the effects of nuclear explosions on human beings?

In 1945 in Hiroshima, the ICRC came to assist the people affected by the nuclear explosion and ICRC doctor Marcel Junod later provided a detailed account of effects never observed on such a scale before. What is known now is that a nuclear explosion may result in immediate and long-term health consequences depending on a number of factors including the construction of the device, its destructive power, and the location of the explosion in relation to the affected people.

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In such a scenario, is it possible to provide effective assistance?

Today’s strategic nuclear weapons are of a much greater yield than those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Hence, the potential impact of their explosion is far greater, in terms of the extent of death and injury, destruction of civilian infrastructure and radioactive contamination of the environment.

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