27 April 2005

On Chernobyl Disaster Anniversary, Secretary-General Urges Dramatic Expansion of Development Assistance to Countries Most Affected

NEW YORK, 26 April (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

Today marks the nineteenth anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, the worst nuclear power plant accident in history.  Almost two decades later, the three countries most affected -- Belarus, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine -- continue to grapple with daunting social, economic, and environmental consequences.

The challenge posed by Chernobyl has evolved over time.  As the threat posed by radiation has diminished, the no less potent hazards of acute poverty, chronic unemployment, and inadequate infrastructure have come to the fore.

In response, the focus of recovery efforts supported by the United Nations has shifted from emergency humanitarian assistance to long-term development aid.  This new approach strives to empower communities and to foster new, sustainable livelihoods.  Early efforts are showing promise, but they need to expand dramatically in order to meet the needs of the affected populations.  The Secretary-General urges the international community to provide the necessary financial support for programmes designed to assist communities traumatized by Chernobyl to regain self-sufficiency and help families to lead normal, healthy lives in the affected areas.

Over the coming year, the Governments of Belarus, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine, along with United Nations agencies, the international scientific and development community, and charitable organizations, will devote fresh attention both to assessing the impact of Chernobyl and to refining strategies to address the lingering after-effects.  The Chernobyl Forum, a United Nations-wide effort organized in association with the three Governments to draw unequivocal conclusions about the environmental and health impact of the disaster, will announce its results in September 2005.  Belarus will stage an international conference on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the accident, as will Ukraine.  The Secretary-General commends such efforts, and eagerly awaits their findings.

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