finding safe ground in the solomon islands

After Seven decades since World War II ended in the Pacific, Solomon Islanders continue to battle the lethal effects of unexploded war remnants which continue to take human lives, poison the environment and stagnate even the most basic infrastructure development.

There is still no national legislation to deal with legacy munitions, no coordinated international response or concern by the Western Allied nations over the plight of their former comrades.

A small group of Explosive Ordnance Disposal remain both the first line of response and the last line of defence in clearing the Solomons of these deadly explosives.

For many people, World War II is a saga confined to the history books. For them, World War II was a global war that took place between 1939 and 1945, where the living memories of those who lived through it, are slowly fading away into the annals of time. The war in Europe, Hitler and Nazi Germany come readily to mind, perhaps even Japan under Hirohito, the bombing of Pearl Harbour and the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; but the fierce fighting between Allied forces and the Imperial Japanese Navy in what is said to have been the turning point of the war in the Pacific, is remembered less. Even when it is remembered, few acknowledge the war that finished seven decades ago has not ended for some. In the South Pacific theatre, the legacy of World War II still wages a deadly toll on the inhabitants and ecology of the Solomon Islands to this day.

The Battle of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands is one such theatre, where a war fought three generations ago still continues to seep in and destroy every part of life in the Solomon Islands. Every day for the last 75 years, the remnants of a war - a war in which they never wished to be a part of - continues to devastate the environment and take lives in the Solomons.

Today, there is an unknown number of munitions and unexploded ordnance from WWII contaminating the Solomon Islands, specifically in the capital city of Honiara where the Battle of Guadalcanal took place. These UXO are killing and maiming inhabitants, hampering economic development and polluting the environment in the Solomon Islands, and there is very little international engagement when it comes to aid funding to assist in clearance operations.

Those who lived through WWII in the Pacific are ageing and dying, and with them, their stories. Yet, Solomon Islanders are still fighting in a war that ended generations before they were even born, and this story needs to be told and perhaps even more importantly - it needs to be heard. There is a need to give a platform to these voices, and amplify this story in order for there to be understanding and change which will come through dialogue between Solomon Islanders and the global community. The researching and production of the Finding Safe Ground photo documentary project intends to redress the silencing of the people of the Solomon Islands, and bring the legacy of World War II UXO to light, to dialogue and eventually, to a safe conclusion.