’30 years after Chernobyl…’ Life continues. In forty or fifty years’ time, will people still recall the nuclear explosion that thundered at Chernobyl? The technogenic catastrophe, in 1986, attracted the attention of the whole world, as people suffered and radionuclides rained, mostly onto Belarusian territory. Fortunately, the Republic rode out the tense situation with honour.
It’s no secret that the disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant had huge social consequen-ces for Belarus. Settlements and villages close to the station were evacuated, with thousands of people removed permanently to safe havens in other regions. The catastrophe brought huge economic losses, which could run to hundreds of millions of US Dollars.
For the first four years after the Chernobyl accident, the Soviet authorities decided to deal largely with the consequences at the national level. The United Nations and its partners sought ways to provide emergency aid, including assessing nuclear safety and environmental conditions within the contaminated area, and diagnosing various medical conditions resulting from the accident. The UN also focused on raising the awareness of those living within the affected zone, teaching them how to protect themselves from radionuclides remaining in the environment and found in foodstuffs.
Over time, it has become clear that the task of environmental and health recovery cannot be separated from the task of development. The UN, alongside major non-governmental organizations and funds, has implemented more than 200 projects relating to research and rendering of assistance: in such areas as healthcare, nuclear security, information sharing, socio-psychological and economic rehabilitation, restoration of the environment, and the production of ‘pure’ products.
Three decades of rehabilitation activities have included sustainable social and economic development, coupled with clear information on how to live safely within affected territories. These continue to play an important role in mitigating the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster, which lowered the quality of life so much in the affected regions of Belarus.
Our Leaving Good Marks article explores UN-Belarus co-operation in mitigating the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. Undoubtedly, the major burden fell on Belarus in solving its Chernobyl problems, since the consequences of the catastrophe mostly affected the Republic.
On April 26th, 1986, an accident happened at the Chernobyl power plant near the Ukrainian town of Pripyat. Explosions destroyed the casing of the reactor and the resulting fire lasted ten days, sending a radioactive cloud over most of Europe. Around 70 percent of the radioactive fallout rained down on the territory of the Republic of Belarus. According to estimates, more than 8 million people in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia were exposed to the radiation. Dry statistical figures scantily reflect the complexity of those events. However, it’s important to remember that huge work has been conducted and it should be admitted that the young Belarusian state honourably rode out the tense situation.
We also remember the kind-heartedness of the world community and are grateful for the recuperative hosting of our children from the most-affected districts. We are thankful also for generous technical, financial and humanitarian assistance. Our thanks to you all!
By Victor Kharkov