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Chernobyl victims given a chance to recover

Protesters in Ukraine demand benefits for the familes affected by the Chernobyl disaster Keystone Archive

Children affected by radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster are being brought to therapy camps in Switzerland this year, as part of a government-funded initiative to mark the 15th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident.

This content was published on April 26, 2001 - 13:47

The programme, run by the Green Cross, has been supported by the Swiss government's Development Agency (SDC) since 1998. This year it is funding an additional 10 camps, which will be able to accommodate some 2,200 children.

The camps aim to improve the health children, from Ukraine and Belarus, who are suffering from radiation-related illnesses including asthma, diabetes, skin diseases and weakened immune systems.

The Green Cross says that 36 per cent of children who have visited the camps showed a general improvement in health. It said the camps were particularly successful in treating anemia and immune deficiencies.

Some five million people were exposed to radiation or otherwise affected when reactor number four exploded on April 16, 1986. More than 4,000 have since died and another 40,000 have become ill or disabled.

The United Nations on Thursday appealed for health and development assistance for victims of the Chernobyl disaster. Secretary general, Kofi Annan, said: "Together we must extend a helping hand to our fellow human beings and show that we are not indifferent to their plight."

The appeal has been made annually for the past five years. UN officials say most funds are earmarked to help shut down the Chernobyl plant and to reinforce the concrete "sarcophagus" encasing the destroyed reactor number four.

swissinfo with agencies

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