Marking the 24th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster – which exposed more than 8 million people in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia to radiation – today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reiterated his commitment to reviving sections of the three nations still coping with the catastrophe.
“We remember the hundreds of emergency workers who responded to the accident; the more than 330,000 people who were uprooted from their homes; the thousands of children who later contracted thyroid cancer,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement.
“One of the most important global lessons of the Chernobyl disaster is the importance of strengthening the safety and security of nuclear material and facilities,” it continued.
The Secretary-General, who took part in the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington two weeks ago, welcomed world leaders’ renewed commitment to this issue.
He called on the international community to “do everything in its power to further the region’s revival” and to support those impacted.
The General Assembly has declared 2006-2016 the Decade of Recovery and Sustainable Development of the Affected Regions, urging assistance for Chernobyl-affected communities to return to a normal life.
Mr. Ban today also reaffirmed his commitment to the so-called UN Chernobyl Action Plan, prepared by the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
The main challenges, including health and environment, are also components of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the eight anti-poverty targets agreed upon by world leaders with a 2015 deadline.
Mr. Ban will host a high-level summit on the theme of accelerating pace towards the MDGs around the world in September in New York, to coincide with the start of the new session of the General Assembly.
In addition, Ukraine will convene an international conference, co-sponsored by Belarus and Russia, on the 25th anniversary of the accident in April 2011, to mark progress towards the goal of a return to normal life.