Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today marked the 27th anniversary of the worst nuclear power plant accident in history by stressing that the impact of the Chernobyl disaster must never be forgotten and calling for continued international assistance for the people and regions affected.
“As we today mark 27 years after the Chernobyl disaster, we honour the emergency workers who risked their lives responding to the accident, the more than 330,000 people uprooted from their homes and the millions of people living in contaminated areas who have long been traumatized by lingering fears about their health and livelihoods,” said a statement issued by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson.
“The countless women, men and children affected by radioactive contamination must never be forgotten.”
In 2011, Mr. Ban became the first United Nations Secretary-General to visit the Chernobyl site, witnessing first hand the “great resilience” being demonstrated by the people affected by the explosion that occurred at the plant in Ukraine in 1986.
“The affected area is still suffering from the impact of the accident,” noted today’s statement. “Environmental damage to food chains, land and water will in many cases last for years. At the same time, we can take heart from the fact that communities there now have the chance and, increasingly, the means, to lead a normal life.”
Towards this end, the General Assembly proclaimed 2006-2016 a “Decade of Recovery and Sustainable Development” for the affected regions. There is also a UN Action Plan on Chernobyl which contains a declaration of principles embraced by all UN agencies involved in recovery efforts and emphasizes social and economic development and the promotion of healthy lifestyles and community self-reliance.
“Those coping with the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster are demonstrating great resilience. But they continue to need support,” said the statement.
“The Secretary-General calls on the international community to demonstrate generosity in helping affected regions as they strive for a long-sought return to normalcy.”
Mr. Ban also reiterated the UN’s commitment to stand by those affected by the disaster, and to work for greater nuclear safety and sustainable energy worldwide.