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The Russian Federation

Composed of 89 federated autonomous lands, occupying a territory of 17,075,000 square km, with a population of 147,200,000 people, the Russian Federation was the center of the former Soviet Socialist Republics. The Chernobyl disaster in 1986 affected more than 2.7 million people in Russia, which is equivalent to about half of the population of Denmark. The disaster also contaminated an area of 57,000 square km, which is about twice the size of Albania. The accident rendered large areas of Russian agricultural lands unsafe for food production. Organizations within and outside the UN immediately sought ways to provide emergency assistance to the country after the accident and have implemented numerous projects since then.

Since 1986 the United Nations organizations, leading NGOs and Foundations have implemented nearly 70 projects, providing more than $22 million in assistance to the areas affected by Chernobyl in Russia. (This information does not include Chernobyl projects implemented by the European Community and UNESCO).

Since 1986, UN system organizations have worked closely with non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) and foundations to speed recovery in the affected areas. Attention has been focused on health and socio-psychological projects, which have accounted for 18.5 million in assistance. Medical examinations in 1985-2000 in Kaluga, one of the contaminated regions, showed that cases of cancer significantly increased, including cancer of the breast by 121 percent, lungs 58 percent, esophagus 112 percent, uterus 88 percent, lymphatic and blood-forming tissues by 59 percent. The Russian registry system recorded that many of the 200,000 Russian liquidators who were involved in recovery operations at Chernobyl and received the highest exposure to radiation, developed disabilities, and, at the age of 48, needed government medical and social assistance. The Russian health sector continues to struggle to provide medicines, and equipment to treat those most affected by the accident.

An additional $ 1 million was allocated towards projects focused on rehabilitating and de-contaminating agricultural areas. According to Russian estimates, some 98-99 percent of the population have eaten contaminated food at one point in the years after the accident. UN system organizations invested in the use of Caesium Binders to reduce Caesium-137 found in the soil. Other tactics were used in order to rehabilitate agriculture, and diminish the amount of radionuclides found in agricultural areas. Among other important projects were communication development projects, which exceeded $2.2 million. Nuclear safety and economic rehabilitation projects amounted to less than $150,000 and obviously were the ones of less priority at that period.

After 17 years of international assistance, it is clear that millions of people in Russia still suffer from radioactive contamination. A great deal of work still needs to be done. Contributions for Chernobyl projects represent only a small amount of what is required to help Russia develop. Russia spent $3.8 billion from 1992 to 1998 in dealing with the effects of the disaster. Of this amount, some 3 billion was paid in compensation to victims of Chernobyl.

The United Nations recently announced a new focus on sustainable development for the countries affected by Chernobyl. The hope is that new approaches to development in the three countries affected by Chernobyl can empower individuals and communities, and mobilize additional resources for recovery.




Copyright © 2004 UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs