Recently in Humanitarian Aid Category

Christmas in Ireland for Chernobyl Children

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The Irish government has established an agreement with Belarus to end the ban on travel for children affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The agreement means approximately 200 children will be able to visit Ireland this Christmas.

Ireland is the first country to secure a direct inter-governmental agreement since Belarus banned travel for Chernobyl children in August after one participant, Tanya Kazyra, refused to return home at the end of her visit with the Zapata family in Petaluma, California.

The agreement allows for unrestricted continuation of visits by all children under the age of 18. A memo of understanding will be signed by both governments on December 21.

Hopefully other countries will be able to secure similar agreements in the near future.

Moldova Drought Aid Continues

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Families in Moldova continue to receive emergency assistance from United Nations humanitarian agencies in response to last summer's extreme drought. In the latest phase of a multi-step relief program, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) has supplied more than 30,000 farms with enough seed corn to allow for the upcoming spring season planting, and 9,000 tons of livestock fodder to over 20,000 households. So far, over 135,000 people have received assistance.

Organization of relief efforts has been provided by UNDP, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), and the World Food Programme (WFP) in response to last July's appeal from the Moldovan government.

Moldova is Europe's poorest country, and its economy is heavily dependent on agriculture. With rainfall totals 50-75% below average, the drought affected approximately 84% of the country's arable land. A study by the International Money Fund (IMF) found that as a result of the drought, the Moldovan agricultural sector lost approximately 100,000 jobs.

In spring 2008, Chernobyl Children's Project International (CCPI) is sponsoring four trips to Ukraine for American medical teams to operate on children with very serious heart conditions. Since the 1986 Chernobyl accident, medical personnel have seen a dramatic increase in genetic defects, such as these heart conditions, in children living in the “Chernobyl affected areas.” Without an operation, each of these children will die.

CCPI has a long-standing history of providing aid to children in Belarus. In the past, American surgical teams have traveled to Belarus, performing similar operations and training local physicians. CCPI's new fund raising campaign seeks support to assist in the expansion of this medical program into Ukraine.

By raising $1,500, I can help cover the costs of one of these life saving operations. To help with this effort, I have added a Charity Badge to this site, located on the right just below the feed subscription area. Please consider donating to this important program.

You can learn more at Chernobyl Children’s Project International’s Website/Blog

Public Misunderstanding of UN Chernobyl Aid Resolution

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Over the past several days, I have seen many bloggers writing about the recent UN resolution regarding Chernobyl aid. Many people are apparently confused by the announcement that the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) emphasis on Chernobyl assistance efforts will shift from emergency and disaster relief to rehabilitation and sustainable development.

People are taking this to mean that radiation levels have returned to near normal levels and the area is again safe for habitation. This is a huge and grossly incorrect assumption. What these people do not understand is that the UN concentrates its Chernobyl aid efforts on several oblasts (provinces) and districts surrounding the Chernobyl area, but does not include the Chernobyl District itself.

UN Resolution Shifts Chernobyl Aid Focus

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The United Nations General Assembly has promoted a new resolution shifting the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) emphasis on Chernobyl assistance efforts from emergency and disaster relief to rehabilitation and sustainable development.

Cihan Sultanoglu, UNDP's Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Director of the Regional Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, said, “UNDP is trying to change the legacy of Chernobyl from one of despair and hopelessness to one of hope and prosperity and health.... 20 years of treating the residents of those regions as victims has created a culture of apathy.”