Marking the 23rd anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident, the United Nations today unveiled a new project that translates the latest scientific developments into practical advice for those living in countries still affected by the catastrophe.
“People need sound information to make good decisions,” Helen Clark, Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), said at the launch of the $2.5 million International Chernobyl Research and Information Network (ICRIN) in New York.
Deciphering scientific information and providing hands-on tips will help those living in Chernobyl-affected areas to “lead safe and productive lives” and “contribute to development in this region, which has such rich traditions and potential,” she noted.
Under the new scheme, teachers, medical professionals, community leaders and the media will be trained local residents will receive advice on health risks and how to live a healthy life Internet centres will be set up in rural areas and small-scale community projects promoting improved living conditions and self-reliance will be established.
It draws on the work of the UN Chernobyl Forum – a joint undertaking by eight UN agencies and the Government of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine – that issued authoritative scientific findings in 2005 on the consequences of the accident on people's health and on the environment.
ICRIN seeks to dispel widespread misconceptions by disseminating the Forum's findings in plain language to fight the stigma that still exists in the region, according to a press release.
In her address today, Miss Clark, who also serves as UN Coordinator of the International Co-operation on Chernobyl, paid tribute to the emergency workers who worked selflessly in the wake of the 26 April 1983 accident, the 5,000 children who later contracted thyroid cancer, the over 300,000 people made homeless and the millions left traumatized.
“Today's anniversary must always be a somber occasion,” she said. “But we can also acknowledge that, by working together, we can make a difference for the better for those affected by the tragedy.”