Off the radar
Ebeye is the most populous island of the Kajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. 15 000 inhabitants (i.e. 1/5 of the country’s total population) live in an area covering 32 hectares. Some of Ebeye’s inhabitants are victims or descendants of victims of radiation from the nuclear test Castle Bravo, the most powerful H-bomb to date, tested by the U.S. on 1st March 1954. The American Authorities evacuated Bikini and Rongelap, the two most-affected atolls and most of the islanders settled on Ebeye.
Close by is the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site, a vast 750 000 square miles missile test site in the Pacific Ocean. The 1 500 soldiers working on the site live on Ebeye island in a sort of “Club Med”, separated from the rest of the island. Tomas Van Houtryve offers us a report on the inhabitants of the island, nicknamed the slum of the Pacific: unemployment, poverty and illness inherited from the nuclear tests.
Tomas van Houtryve is a photographer and a member of the VII agency. His work has been awarded numerous international honours, including the POYi award for photographer of the year, the Bayeux-Calvados award for war correspondents and the Perpignan Young Reporter award. His first monograph, La Lutte Continue, voyage dans les communismes du XXIè siècle was published by Editions Intervalles in Spring 2012.