CHRISTMAS ISLAND NUCLEAR TEST VETERAN SUES UK

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By Catherine Adams

SUVA, Fiji Islands (December 31, 1998 –BBC)---A Fijian veteran present during UK nuclear testing on Christmas Island in the late 1950s has filed for compensation with the European court of Human Rights.

Campaigners say more than 350 Fijians have suffered health problems due to radiation.

They also say the group was not told why they were going to the island.

The UK tested around 24 nuclear bombs on Christmas Island, now part of the Pacific nation of Kiribati, between 1958 and 1960.

The patriotic feeling in the former colony was running high and many Fijians volunteered to go to Christmas Island.

They were expecting only to clear the area and build houses.

The Pacific Concern Resource Centre, which has collected stories from around 100 veterans, reported that they were not issued with protective clothing and were just told to turn their backs on the explosions.

The group, campaigning for compensation, says most of the veterans suffered from unexplained illnesses for most of their lives.

These include skin disorders, asthma, cancers and deformities.

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