120 children from Chernobyl arrive in Ireland today for month-long respite
Over 100 children from Chernobyl are set to arrive to Ireland today for a month long respite.
The 120 children and young adults will land in Shannon Airport today as part of the Chernobyl Children International programme(CCI).
The initiative has allowed children from affected areas of the then-Soviet Union to travel abroad for short periods of time to prolong their lives.
The children arriving in Ireland today are the third generation of victims from the 1986 nuclear explosion. They will stay with host families across nine counties for the next four weeks.
It has been proven that a month-long break from their affected home areas reduces their radiation levels by 50 percent and adds up to two years to their life expectancy.
Adi Roche, CEO of CCI, said that since the early 90s, over 25,000 children have come to Ireland as part of the programme.
“Our wonderful volunteers have opened their hearts and their homes to these children every summer," she said.
"These are children who so desperately need our help. While the Chernobyl accident happened 33 years ago, the consequences last forever."
Many of the children who come to Ireland as part of the programme live in Vesnova Children’s Mental Asylum, an institution for abandoned children that was kept very much hidden from the public during the height of the Soviet Union.
Roche said that the programme is now working to ensure that these young people can one day live a safe life outside of the orphanage.
“Our work on de-institutionalisation and finding alternatives to orphanages is the most important body of work that we have ever undertaken," she said.
"It is amazing to see some of the children and young adults here learn to read and write and for the first time have their abilities and skills be the focus, rather than any disabilities they may have."
Ireland is now recognised as the country that has provided the most support and continuing aid to victims of the reactor explosion.
Feature image via CCI.