Lord-Mayor, Dear Fiona, Ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the Embassy of Ukraine and Ukrainian community in Ireland I would like to sincerely thank Ms.Fiona Corcoran and the Cork City Council for organizing this commemoration of the 29th anniversary of the Chornobyl accident.
When we speak about new challenges, we should not forget the past. 29 years ago Chornobyl has become a challenge of global scale.
The explosion released into the atmosphere one hundred times more radiation than the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Traces of radioactive fallout were found in almost every country in the northern hemisphere.
Within a few weeks, the accident caused the deaths of tens of workers and firemen – called “liquidators” – courageous people who prevented a nuclear explosion at the price of their own lives.
But the Chornobyl aftermath has actually affected millions of people. Their exact number may never be known but a number of people who died or who could eventually die is further rising.
Many diseases such as Thyroid cancer, respiratory and immune-system malfunctions have increased. Most sadly, tens thousands of children have specially suffered from these diseases emanated from the nuclear disaster.
After the Chornobyl accident, Ukraine has become the first state in history, where an area of thousands of square kilometers, comparable to the territory of a small European country, was declared unsafe and uninhabitable.
More than 300,000 people were evacuated from their home areas causing severe social disruption. The general area suffered massive economic consequences and vast numbers of people still suffer from psychological depression, believing that exposure to radiation has seriously damaged their health.
Chornobyl made the world realize the extraordinary complexity of problems connected with providing reliable operation of nuclear plants.
The unfolding events at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan once again demonstrate that nuclear safety recognizes no national borders and requires consolidated efforts of the international community.
The government of Ukraine devoted and continues to devote huge resources to protect the population from the consequences, but enormous problems persist, even after almost three decades. At present time due to the internal economic crisis and external military aggression our possibilities to help are limited.
Fortunately we are not standing alone and facing our problems. The international community reached its helpful hand in a spirit of humanity and fellowship.
Nations from all over the world generously assisted in caring for the affected. It would take too long to mention all that has been done by governments and peoples from all corners of the world.
But I would like to take this opportunity to express my deep appreciation to the Irish people who responded with help.
I would like to express our sincere gratitude to all Ireland’s civil and non-governmental organisations for their constant valuable assistance to the people of affected regions, to all Irish volunteers for their big hearts.
My special thanks go to the founder and executive director of the Greater Chornobyl Cause Ms. Fiona Corcoran.
Four years ago I had the honour to present her the state Ukrainian award – Order of the Princess Olga for her tireless and devoted activities to raise awareness of the Irish people about the Chornobyl problem and get them involved in bringing relief and hope to thousands of children affected in the region.
Dear Fiona, at this moment I recall a motto of the Greater Chornobyl Cause: “Every Child Deserves a Childhood, Every Adult Deserves a Healthy Life”. Your work is aimed at future generations. Ukraine feels this friendly support and will never forget it.
There could never be a nobler goal. By saving our children you save the future of mankind.