Annan urges international community to remember victims of Chernobyl disaster

Annan urges international community to remember victims of Chernobyl disaster

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The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, today made a special plea to the international community to remember the victims of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion 17 years ago in Ukraine – an event which devastated the lives and health of many people for generations to come.

“For the last 17 years, millions of people in Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine have lived with a daily reminder of the moment that changed their lives forever,” said in a statement issued by a UN spokesman in New York to commemorate the accident.

“The tragic legacy of Chernobyl will remain with them, and their descendants, for generations to come,” the statement said of the explosion's long-term consequences to the health and welfare of the residents.

The Secretary-General called on donors to respond generously in a joint demonstration that Chernobyl will never be forgotten, according to the statement. He also reiterated the commitment of the UN system – in partnership with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) – to help the governments and people of the affected States “to forge ahead on the path to recovery.”

Yesterday, at the Twelfth International Conference on Chernobyl, held in New York, Ambassador Valeriy Kuchynsky of Ukraine stressed the special significance of the UN's role in strengthening international cooperation to mitigate and minimize the disaster's consequences.

While a number of events have taken place since the adoption last year of the UN's new strategy on Chernobyl, Ambassador Kuchynsky noted that much of the pledges of relief and recovery assistance for the disaster's victims have remained unfulfilled.

“What the victims of Chernobyl need is a concrete help, not rhetoric or exciting projects on paper,” he said. “The world community cannot afford weakening its efforts with a job half done. We should maintain the momentum, provided by the new UN strategy, and take real action for the sake of present and future generations.”