Nuclear devastation and the Marshall Islands | Letter to the editor

Letter to the editor.

I write to you with a mix of emotions, spurred by the recent passing of the Compact Impact Fairness Act (CIFA) bill, which restores federal benefits to Compacts of Free Association (COFA) citizens like myself, hailing from the Marshall Islands. Our history is marked by a tragic chapter — our islands serving as a testing ground for American nuclear experiments in the 1950s, a harrowing legacy of suffering and loss.

The fallout from these nuclear tests has left indelible scars on our land and people. The resulting contamination of our food sources and soil has led to a surge in cancer, birth defects and other illnesses. My own family has not been spared. My mother endured the agony of losing four babies to radiation-induced deformities before giving birth to me and my siblings.

The aftermath of these tests continues to haunt us, compounding the challenges we face from climate change-induced sea level rise and the erosion of our homes. Many Marshallese, driven by safety concerns and other hardships, have been forced to leave their homeland, seeking refuge in communities like South King County.

Despite these trials, the Marshallese people are resilient. Yet, our struggles persist, exacerbated by displacement and cultural barriers. It is in this context that I urge support for the Back from the Brink Resolution — a call to hold our leaders accountable and prevent the horrors of nuclear devastation from ever befalling another community.

In sharing our stories of hardship, I implore you to amplify our voices and rally support for this crucial resolution. Together, we can ensure that no other nation endures the devastation inflicted upon us.

BL Sawej,