UN Resident Coordinator in Ukraine Mr. Francis O'Donnell Following in-country debate on Chernobyl legacy and international community position on helping Ukraine in addressing this issue, UN Resident Coordinator in Ukraine Mr. Francis O'Donnell comments in his op-ed on the organization's strategy and actions in Ukraine for the revival of the territories worst hit by the Chernobyl disaster:
javascript:submitbutton('save'); Save UN Resident Coordinator in Ukraine Mr. Francis O'Donnell Following in-country debate on Chernobyl legacy and international community position on helping Ukraine in addressing this issue, UN Resident Coordinator in Ukraine Mr. Francis O'Donnell comments in his op-ed on the organization's strategy and actions in Ukraine for the revival of the territories worst hit by the Chernobyl disaster:
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UN Resident Coordinator in Ukraine Mr. Francis O'Donnell

Following in-country debate on Chernobyl legacy and international community position on helping Ukraine in addressing this issue, UN Resident Coordinator in Ukraine Mr. Francis O'Donnell comments in his op-ed on the organization's strategy and actions in Ukraine for the revival of the territories worst hit by the Chernobyl disaster:

"On April 19, 2007, the 16th International conference on Chornobyl started at the UN Headquarters in New York. This international event has been dedicated to the 21st commemoration anniversary of Chornobyl disaster. It aims at attracting additional international attention to the Chornobyl-related topics and contributing to remembering about the consequences of the worst nuclear accident in history the effects of which are still being felt today. This and other events confirm one more time that the United Nations’ agencies continue to pay considerable attention to the Chornobyl-related problems and mitigation of Chornobyl fall-out.

For a long time assistance from international organisations aimed at overcoming the consequences of Chornobyl disaster was primarily channelled into construction of the shelter over the fourth reactor, lessening of the radiation impact on people’s health and humanitarian aid to the affected population.

In 2002 the UN adopted a new strategy for the revival of territories affected by Chornobyl disaster that was presented in the report “The Human Consequences of the Chornobyl Nuclear Accident. A Strategy for Recovery”. It was based on the conclusion that the biggest challenge to the affected regions was not radiation, but rather a lack of social and economic opportunities. As a result, the United Nations shifted the focus of its Chornobyl efforts from emergency assistance to social recovery and economic development. The transition from humanitarian aid to a development strategy defined the coordination role of UN Development Programme, putting UNDP at the heart of these UN-led efforts. Specifically these include providing well-targeted assistance in improving living conditions, creating new jobs, promoting economic development and supporting the revival of local communities. The strategy’s special focus is provision of reliable information on the norms of safe living and healthy lifestyles within the affected territories. UNDP continues to work with governments to streamline the costs of overcoming the Chornobyl consequences.

In Ukraine, community development initiatives are being successfully implemented within the UNDP-led Chornobyl Recovery and Development Programme. As a result, a total of 256 organisations in 174 villages are covering over 20,000 people with the Programme’s activities. Uniting their own resources with those of local authorities and the private sector, they are implementing projects focused on making a real difference in their lives. Specifically, these community-development projects include water and gas provision, reconstruction and re-equipment of medical facilities, improvement of the educational environment, reconstruction of schools, and creation of youth and community centres in villages. In five affected districts local economic development agencies have been set up. As a result, a swimming pool has been opened in Borodyanka, Kyiv region, - the first since Chornobyl disaster – which was built with the funds from local communities, authorities, businessmen and donor agencies.

Village school in Pakul, Chernihiv district, has been linked to the water supply system and obtained newly-constructed toilets and shower-rooms for its schoolchildren for the first time in 40 years.

A Youth Centre in Klavdiyeve and medical aid stations have been opened in Pylypovichi and Mykulychi (Borodyanka district). There were over 40 such projects in Ukraine in 2006 alone.

In our activities worldwide the UN counts on celebrities in addressing most burning social issues. This year world’s top tennis star and new UNDP Goodwill Ambassador on Chornobyl Ms. Maria Sharapova donated USD100,000 to implement eight Chornobyl recovery projects in Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

As we mark the 21th anniversary of Chornobyl nuclear accident, the UN sends out a vital message of hope and calls for support to continue assisting the social and economic recovery of the regions and communities affected by Chornobyl catastrophe. At the same time, comprehensive environmental strategies and deep geological disposal facilities are needed to dispose safely of the growing burden of spent nuclear fuel and other radioactive waste, not only in Ukraine but worldwide.

To be successful in getting rid of Chornobyl's legacy of fear every helping hand counts – but it must not only help sustainable recovery from the past legacy, but also prevention of future catastrophes and guaranteed safety from the burden of nuclear waste."

This article was published in magazine "Business Ukraine" (April 30 - May 4, 2007) and newspaper "Uryadoviy Courier" (April 27, 2007).