Children from the area of Belarus which was most affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster arrive at Shannon Airport for a holiday in Ireland.

Many of these Belarusian children were babies or not even born when their country was devastated by the worst nuclear disaster in history. On 26 April 1986 an accident at a nuclear power plant in the Ukrainian town of Chernobyl, sixteen kilometres from the Belarus Ukraine border, released huge amounts of radioactive contamination into the atmosphere.

Children living in regions affected by radiation are suffering the most with many being diagnosed with cancer or thyroid problems, and have undergone treatment or surgery to prolong their lives. Some were orphaned because of the Chernobyl disaster. Doctors estimate that,

A month spent in a clean and healthy environment will add two years to their lives.

Giving seriously ill children a holiday provides them with vital rest and recuperation. It is a reflection of the generosity of the Irish people, says Adi Roche founder of the Chernobyl Children’s Project.

It’s a very significant thing for them to come to Ireland.

Two years ago ten year old Olga and eight year old Helena had stayed with the O’Reilly family from Cork. In the meantime, both girls have had serious cancer operations, and as Liam O’Reilly tells RTÉ News, they are being welcomed back with open arms,

We’re delighted to see them back.

The Chernobyl Children’s Project has to date brought 1000 sick children to Ireland in the past five years, and have recently started to bring children to the United States as well. As Adi Roche explains, their goal is to

Help the children of Chernobyl who have been forgotten by the world.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 19 June 1995. The reporter is Cathy Halloran.