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Chernobyl victims need coordinated int. help

Chernobyl victims need coordinated international help, Annan says

Seventeen years after the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power station the situation in the area remains "difficult' - as does the coordination of international relief efforts, according to a United Nations report issued today.

In a report on "optimizing the international effort" to mitigate the consequences of the disaster, requested by the General Assembly, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan says "despite that fact that 17 years have passed since the accident, the situation in and around Chernobyl and the contaminated areas of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine remains difficult."

The report says, "More needs to be done to secure donor support in a systematic way. United Nations country teams are talking to donors in their respective countries, but this work needs to be invigorated and coordinated."

The report suggests further study of three possibilities: a large donor conference, the organizing of donor field trips to the most-affected areas, and a coordinated approach in the donor capitals, in the UN Headquarters in New York and in the capitals of the three affected states.

"The United Nations programmes aimed at addressing the human consequences of the Chernobyl disaster have been chronically underfunded for many years. Because of the constraints felt by some donors, Chernobyl falls into a budgetary gap," it says.

The Secretary-General’s report says that, “Though many donors have been generous with assistance over the years, it must be noted that some important projects have been discontinued and assistance suspended due to severe financial constraints.

"For the victims, Chernobyl is a personal and societal tragedy. For the rest of the world Chernobyl represents a disaster whose consequences need to be eliminated and the recurrence of which should be prevented.

"Herein lies the enlightened self-interest of the international community and the test of its solidarity with those who continue to live with the effects of the worst disaster of its kind that the world has known," it says.

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