Chernobyl disaster - Adi Roche deserves all our plaudits

Yesterday marked the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, a catastrophic incident that killed hundreds and still affects the lives of thousands of people in northern Ukraine, as well as neighbouring Belarus and Russia.

The radioactive cloud from Chernobyl engulfed Belarus, covering 70% of the country and contaminating 23% of the soil. The people of Belarus, in particular, are still living with the ongoing effects of radiation.

Most people in Ireland and outside the region where the accident happened would have already forgotten about it were it not for the work of one extraordinary Irishwoman.

Adi Roche, founder of the charity Chernobyl Children International, has spent the last 30 years focusing on the relief of suffering by children in the wake of the disaster.

She has raised an estimated €100m, which has been used to build hospitals, shelters, and homes for the children affected.

Yesterday, she addressed the UN General Assembly in New York on the huge work still to be done in the region surrounding Chernobyl, reminding delegates that, “for many people, 30 years ago is like reading ancient history. However, for the victims it remains an unfolding tragedy.”

From popes to princes to politicians, many powerful people around the world preach about humanitarianism. Adi Roche doesn’t; she practises it. We should all be proud of her.

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