It’s been 32 years now since the Chernobyl disaster. On this day in 1986 a catastrophic accident resulted in an explosion on the nuclear plant which made almost 25% of the territory of Belarus contaminated, resulting in the internal displacement of people, cancer-related diseases increase and broken lives.
Belarus has made considerable efforts to rehabilitate areas where the effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster continue to be present and still require significant investments. In 2016, more than 200 thousand children (11%) lived in contaminated areas.
UNICEF together with sister UN agencies and other international organisations supported the Government in implementing the long run state policy on overcoming the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster which built up on the transition from post-accident rehabilitation measures to the development of the social and economic potential of the affected regions, and creating a safe living environment for the local people including children as well as strengthening their self-resilience.
UNICEF contributed to the capacity development of health professionals and promotion of health securing behaviour among parents. Parents and other caregivers living in affected areas were provided with essential easy to understand information on child’s health and development by the special edition of Facts for Life publication (http://ffl.unicef.by). Parents of young children in selected Chernobyl affected areas were supported also with the better parenting programmes (counselling, workshops and educational materials) covering aspects of early development, nutrition, health, ensuring the child’s safety and use of non-violent child upbringing practice.
Information centres at schools that were created with UNICEF support, continue their work on raising children’s and young people’s awareness on radiation safety. Early intervention services for young children with disabilities got further development to ensure early identification of children who may have a developmental problem or a delay, to make an accurate diagnosis and undertake timely rehabilitation measures.
The needs and interests of children and their families living in contaminated areas remain in the focus of UNICEF country programme of cooperation and United National Development Assistance Framework for 2016-2020.
Further Chernobyl recovery efforts will be linked to attaining the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals for the benefits of affected regions and communities.