The first of six flights carrying 900 Chernobyl children arrived into Ireland on Bank Holiday Monday 6th June as part of Chernobyl Children International (CCI) annual airlift of children. The children, coming from the heart of the contaminated Chernobyl zone, will be hosted by hundreds of Irish families throughout Ireland, including Kilkenny city and county as part of CCI’s 25th Anniversary Rest and Recuperation Programme.
Despite the economic downturn, Irish host families continue to raise funds to support these children to ensure they benefit from a cleaner Irish environment. Nationwide, over 900 children will travel this summer to all corners of the country. Over 40 children from this flight will stay with host families in Kilkenny.
Many of the children making the trip come from very impoverished backgrounds in Belarus. While giving the children a memorable summer holiday, their trip to Ireland also provides respite from the high levels of radiation to which are exposed as a result of the Chernobyl explosion. The arrival of this summers’ children brings the total number of children who have benefited under the scheme to over 21,000 since 1991.
Dr Nesterenko, a leading Belarusian scientist who recently met with Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore, outlined the benefits of short holidays for these children. Dr Nesterenko stated that tests carried out on the children have shown that their radiation levels drop by 30-50% during their stay in Ireland. Many of the children suffer from a variety of Chernobyl-related illnesses and receive medical treatment while in Ireland. In addition, a number of children will receive specialist care at the Barretstown Camp in Kildare.
Adi Roche, CEO, CCI, said, “We are so proud that in this Special 25th Anniversary year. Irish families continue to thrust their hands out in hope and love to the children of Chernobyl. This is an extraordinary achievement made possible by the unwavering commitment of these families. I cannot thank the people of Ireland enough for ensuring the candle of hope will never fade, even in these difficult times.”