Ryan hoping to end Chernobyl children impasse

The head of Chernobyl Aid Ireland, Eoin Ryan MEP, is to meet with the Belarus ambassador to the EU in Brussels tomorrow to discuss easing travel arrangements for the children of Chernobyl who want to visit Ireland.

There are as many as 2,500 children from Chernobyl who visit Ireland every year and 200 children from Belarus want to visit Ireland this coming Christmas.

Ryan will meet the ambassador Senko Vladimer together with Chernobyl Aid Ireland chief executive William Grant.

"The primary purpose of this meeting is to ensure that agreement can be reached between Ireland and the Belarus government concerning travel arrangements for the children of Chernobyl who want to visit Ireland," said Ryan.

"The reality is that the Belarusian government contacted the Irish Government (and other governments around the world) last August and said that a new agreement would have to be put in place between Ireland and the Belarus government concerning future travel arrangements for children from Chernobyl travelling to Ireland.

"The Belarus government sought to revise our arrangements between our two countries dealing with these issues because of the fact that one child from Belarus did not return to Belarus after visiting Italy. A similar incident took place in America this year as well.

"We must ensure that we do all in our power to guarantee that an agreement is reached between Ireland and Belarus so that these children can visit Ireland this coming Christmas.

"Only one country to date, which is Italy, has concluded such a bilateral agreement with Belarus on the specific issue."

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