Monday, 20 June 2011

If you bomb a place, think about how you clear up the armaments afterwards - Photos from Libya

There was a report today on the radio about how some of the construction work in Germany is being held up because of old bombs and munitions from the second world war. Part of the pornographic lie of war is that it is a quick, "surgical" solution - bomb them, get in, get out, mission over. It's such a lie. Not far from where we used to live in Dunkerque are the battlefields of the First World War. Still today farmers turn up spent and unspent cartridges and munitions as they plough the fields. The harvest of war can continue for many generations.
The picture here is from Misrata, Libya, taken just a couple of days ago by Paul Jeffrey for the ACTalliance. ACT have put together a powerful and moving photo gallery of the photos from Libya. Sandra Cox writes:
Macabre museums of unexploded shells, warheads and mines have ready sprung up around the city, and a deadly new hobby of arms tourism is in vogue. Children are using the battle zones as life-size playgrounds, where they risk losing limbs or their lives ...

The next job of ACT’s de-mining team is clearing Misrata's so-called museums of mass-destruction – ad hoc collections of live and dead munitions that have appeared in homes and businesses throughout the city in the last couple of weeks.
I've spent lots of time thinking about, reflecting on, writing about and celebrating "justpeace" in recent weeks and months. Pictures like these really bring the destruction of war home. How many millions went into buying these weapons? Is a similar amount being put into demining and reconstruction? More and more I understand Paul Oestreicher's call for an abolition of war.
In the meantime I wish my colleagues at ACT and all working with them the utmost safety as they carry out this risky and painstaking task, no surgical quick fix talk at this end of the story. The aftermath of war takes many lifetimes to clear up. We forget so easily.

You can also view the photos in the Independent.