UXO: Lethal Legacy

Special Report

UXO: Lethal Legacy

About The Series

Nearly 80 years after World War II ended for the Solomon Islands more than 20 people a year are still killed or seriously injured by unexploded ordnance, left behind when Japan, the U.S. and its Allies went home.

Unlike other war-torn nations that have benefited from millions of dollars in aid to clear leftover munitions, the Solomon Islands has been largely left without help.

Now, following a recent rise in reported incidents, there is a renewed call for the U.S. and Japan to return to the South Pacific nation – the second poorest in the region – and clean up the deadly mess they left behind.

World War II Is Still Killing People In The Solomon Islands Thomas Heaton/Civil Beat/2022

World War II Is Still Killing People In The Solomon Islands

As China and the U.S. jockey for control of the Pacific, little attention is being paid to the bombs that litter the island nation.

Other Countries Get Money To Clean Up Bombs And Mines. Why Not The Solomon Islands? Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat/2022

Other Countries Get Money To Clean Up Bombs And Mines. Why Not The Solomon Islands?

International treaties have directed billions of dollars to countries ravaged by war. But World War II was a long time ago in the Solomons and help has passed it by.

The Solomon Islands Is Doing Little To Help Its People Deal With Deadly UXO Thomas Heaton/Civil Beat/2022

The Solomon Islands Is Doing Little To Help Its People Deal With Deadly UXO

Citizens in the Pacific nation are growing frustrated with continued deaths and injuries. But government officials point to more pressing needs and political turmoil.

What’s Next For The Solomon Islands? Experts Say The UXO Problem Is Shocking Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat/2022

What’s Next For The Solomon Islands? Experts Say The UXO Problem Is Shocking

But not much can be done until a U.S.-funded nationwide survey documents where the unexploded bombs are located.

 

Community Voices

War Games, UXO And Tragedies In The Solomon Islands Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat/2022

War Games, UXO And Tragedies In The Solomon Islands

To win the hearts and minds of Pacific Islanders, the U.S. and Japan must address the wrongs of the past that continue to kill.

Solomon Islanders Have The Right To Live Without Fear And Danger Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat/2022

Solomon Islanders Have The Right To Live Without Fear And Danger

The U.S. and its allies must map out of all the UXO hot spots from World War II in the Pacific.

Ongoing Coverage

‘Ticking Ecological Time Bombs’: Thousands Of Sunken Ships From WWII Are Rusting At The Bottom Of The Pacific Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat/2022

‘Ticking Ecological Time Bombs’: Thousands Of Sunken Ships From WWII Are Rusting At The Bottom Of The Pacific

Earthquakes, storm surges and other natural disasters could mean environmental catastrophe if oil and other hazardous material spill out.

Solomon Islanders Did More Than Just Save JFK During World War II Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat/2022

Solomon Islanders Did More Than Just Save JFK During World War II

The people of the South Pacific nation, the site of several battles, were integral to the Allied war effort, rescuing hundreds of servicemen behind enemy lines.

PROJECT TEAM

Reporter: Thomas Heaton
Editors: Nathan Eagle, Patti Epler
Photography: Nathan Eagle, Thomas Heaton
Art and Graphics: April Estrellon
Graphs and Multimedia: April Estrellon, Ku‘u Kauanoe
Consultant: Dorothy Wickham
Support for this Project: Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting