United Nations


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

8 September 1995


Fiftieth session
Item 20 (d) of the provisional agenda*


Report of the Secretary-General


    Paragraphs  Page

I.  INTRODUCTION ...........................................1 - 43

II.  THE HUMANITARIAN TRAGEDY ...............................5 - 414

  A.  Internally displaced persons .......................5 - 144

  B.  Extent of the human consequences ...................15 - 185

  C.  Chernobyl recovery-workers:  the "liquidators" .....19 - 256

  D.  Increases in morbidity .............................26 - 287

  E.  Impact on children .................................29 - 318

  F.  Incidence of thyroid cancer ........................32 - 358

  G.  Incidence of stress-related illnesses ..............36 - 399

  H.  Potential for increase in other cancers and diseases40 - 419


  *  A/50/150.

95-27461 (E)   270995/...
 CONTENTS (continued)

    Paragraphs  Page


  A.  Economic hardship ..................................42 - 4610

  B.  Environmental contamination and its implications ...47 - 5110



VI.  CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS ................................80 - 8817

Annex.  International organizations, Member States and other organizations
    from which the United Nations received information on Chernobyl
    activities .......................................................19

1.   The name "Chernobyl"  has become synonymous  throughout the world  with
our fear  of technological  catastrophe:   it symbolizes a  penance for  our
unchecked  desire for  progress.   Yet  in the  countries  on to  which  the
largest  single  quantity  of   radioactive  material  released   descended,
Chernobyl signifies  the reality  of  a prolonged  humanitarian disaster  of
major  proportions.   It means  having endured  nine-and-a-half  consecutive
years of contamination and contamination risks, of forced displacements  and
the persistent,  albeit necessary, scrutiny  of researchers, of  conflicting
reports  and growing  scepticism for  the  guidance  of authorities  and the
ambivalence  of the  international  community.    Worse, however,  it  means
having witnessed many  of the youngest  struck down by  the consequences  of
radiation exposure, even so many years on.

2.   Almost 400,000 people have been forced to leave their homes as a result
of the  nuclear power plant explosion on  26 April 1986.   According to some
estimates, at  least  9 million  people  have  been directly  or  indirectly
affected by the  Chernobyl accident.  According  to the Belarus Ministry  of
Health, the  incidence of  thyroid cancer,  which has  already shown  marked
increase,  may rise  still further  and could  peak between the  years 2005-
2010.   An area the size  of England, Wales  and Northern Ireland combined -
over  160,000 square kilometres  is estimated  to have  been contaminated by
the disaster.   The humanitarian  trauma itself  caused by  Chernobyl is  as
frighteningly unnatural as it is difficult to quantify.

3.   Despite other humanitarian disasters  vying for  the world's attention,
the evidence  that has  been accumulated  in  the years  since the  accident
attests  overwhelmingly to the high priority that must  continue to be given
to addressing  the consequences of the  Chernobyl disaster,  both within the
United Nations system and by the international community in general.

4.   The  present  report,  which  has  been prepared  pursuant  to  General
Assembly resolution 48/206 of 21 December 1993,  describes the extent of the
humanitarian disaster  facing the  three most  affected countries  -Belarus,
the Russian Federation and Ukraine, and examines the international  response
to  date  in  eliminating  the  consequences  of  the  accident.    It  also
emphasizes the broader social and economic  context in which this protracted
humanitarian crisis has, and is continuing to be,  played out.  Clearly, the
problems that stem directly from the Chernobyl accident  cannot be viewed in
isolation,  even  if  this  would  be  preferable  from  the  standpoint  of
research.   Indeed  it may  be seen  in the  present report  that the  three
affected countries  do not  have the  capacity to  face up  to the  enormous
costs  of remedying the Chernobyl  effects on their  own, as their economies
make the transition to market economies and as  the effects of the  disaster
continue to  manifest themselves.   The  report emphasizes  the current  and
obvious  plight of  the affected  population,  and  our moral  obligation to
support them.


A.  Internally displaced persons

5.  The  minimum estimate  for the  number of people  forced to leave  their
homes because  of radiation  dangers  following the  Chernobyl explosion  is
almost  400,000:   150,000 in  Belarus, 150,000  in  Ukraine, 75,000  in the
Russian Federation.

6.  These internally displaced persons  have suffered the hardships  typical
of  other refugees and  internally displaced  persons:  they  were forced to
flee their homes and established community  structures at very short notice,
unaware of where  they were going  or how  they would end  up and having  to
endure temporary shelter and extremely poor living conditions.

7.  Since everything in their homes had been contaminated by radiation  they
were forced to  abandon their homes  with only  the clothes  on their  back.
Upon reaching  their final  destination, they  were required  to remove  and
burn the one set of clothes they had been allowed to bring.

8.  Those who  were displaced from  the most contaminated area (the  "Thirty
Kilometre Zone") will  never be allowed to return  to their homes:   caesium
137, the most significant long-term radionuclide contaminant emitted  during
the Chernobyl explosion, has  a half-life of approximately  30 years.   Even
its practical effect on agricultural and forest lands is estimated to  range
between 8 and 20 years.

9.   The  uncertainty that  internally  displaced  persons have  about their
future is compounded by general scientific  uncertainty and lack of previous
experience  of the aftermath  of a  nuclear disaster in which  low levels of
radiation continue  to be emitted.   No comparable  precedents exist through
which scientific  knowledge could have been  gained and  predictions made as
to the likely effects  of living in areas  contaminated by Chernobyl.  Those
events  which  might  have  appeared  to  be  an  obvious  comparison -  the
Hiroshima and  Nagasaki bombs  of the  Second World  War -do  not, in  fact,
constitute useful  evidence in  this case.  Those explosions  resulted in  a
single large  dose of radiation in  a short period  of time.   The Chernobyl
explosion released a total quantity  of radioactivity magnitudes larger than
the  two atomic  bombs combined,  but  of  longer half-life  and lower-level

10.   The International Atomic  Energy Agency (IAEA)  has reported that  the
levels  of  radiation  in  some of  the  areas  originally affected  by  the
Chernobyl  explosion  are   now  comparable  with  the  levels  of   natural
background radiation  in many  parts of  Europe and  the rest of  the world.
Other figures  presented in the  Journal of Radiation  Research, based  on a
study  of a  control  group of  80,000  people who  survived  Hiroshima  and
Nagasaki,  suggest only 600  cases of cancer to  be directly attributable to

11.   The World  Health Organization (WHO)  maintains that  only an exacting
epidemiological study  undertaken over several decades  will be  able to add
scientific weight to the  effects that Chernobyl will have on the  incidence
of most  types of  cancer.  Consequently,  there lacks a  conclusive medical
foundation for asserting that  certain types of cancers  have increased as a
direct  result  of  radiation  exposure   from  Chernobyl.    (An  important
exception,  however, is  the  incidence of  thyroid  cancer  among children,
which has  already registered  a marked increase  and will  be discussed  in
greater depth below.)

12.   The  reassuring  statistics  described  above,  which  the  scientific
community  has produced, have  nevertheless done  little to  allay the deep-
seated anxiety among people  in the three  most affected countries.  By  now
they  have been  subjected  to  every variety  of  opinion and  none  is  as
convincing as the reality of their own experience.   Many believe that  they

have been affected much  more than current  evidence suggests.  These  fears
were no doubt heightened by the wall of silence that confronted citizens  of
the then Soviet Union  in the immediate aftermath  of the explosion  and the
consequent mistrust of authorities.  And when the enemy is invisible, as  is
the  case  for radiation,  these  fears become  all  the more  difficult  to
counter and  weigh all the more heavily  on the minds of the people.  United
Nations Educational, Scientific  and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)  studies
point  to  a  marked  increase  in   stress-related  illnesses  and   social
dysfunction as a result of Chernobyl.

13.  The stress associated with the uncertainty of living with radiation  is
exacerbated  by the  fact  that  many cancers  have a  long  latency period.
Consequently,  the  sentiment  that  the  worst  is  yet  to  come  is  very
prevalent. Understandably, people  from the affected areas are reluctant  to
return to areas  where they believe the  radiation level is still  elevated.
There are,  however, far greater ramifications  in terms  of the uncertainty
about the latent  and longterm  effects of the  accident, which prevent  the
thousands of displaced persons from  returning to their homes and resuming a
normal  life.    Social  patterns  and  economic  life  have  been  severely
disrupted, the state of health of  these individuals appears permanently  in
doubt and  the health facilities and  diagnostic services  available to them
are meagre.   As  will be seen  below, concurrent socio-economic  changes in
the countries  are also  a prominent  compounding factor.   They have  meant
that  health  problems that  otherwise  would  be  limited  to the  affected
population have implications throughout the entire countries concerned.

14.   The fact  that there  is as  yet no  conclusive scientific  proof that
certain of  the  diseases that  have  shown  increases since  the  Chernobyl
disaster have been caused  by exposure to radiation has led to a  reluctance
among  the  international   community  to  offer  decisive  and   meaningful
assistance.   It  is a  situation that  sharply demonstrates  the  danger of
wholly subordinating  an obvious and urgent  moral obligation to  scientific
and statistical evidence.

B.  Extent of the human consequences

15.   The three affected countries officially estimate that overall at least
9 million people have in some way been affected by the Chernobyl disaster.

16.   The Chernobyl  Committee of  the Belarusian  Parliament estimates that
2.5 million people in  its country have been  affected.  The  United Nations
Children's  Fund  (UNICEF)  cites  a  figure  of  almost  2  million people:
130,000  people displaced from  the contaminated  zones in  Belarus, and 1.8
million people who still live in regions with  a contamination of more  than
5 curies per square kilometre.

17.  The Ministry for Chernobyl of  Ukraine estimates that in excess  of 3.5
million  people, including 800,000 children,  have been affected.  Some 3 to
5  million live  in  areas with  varying degrees  of contamination,  while 3
million of  these  are claiming  eligibility for  free medicine,  subsidized
food and early  retirement.  Moreover, in  Ukraine the effects  of Chernobyl
have spread  as  far  south  as  the  Black  Sea owing  to  the  seepage  of
radionuclides from the  nuclear fuel still inside the Chernobyl  sarcophagus
into the water table and from there into the River Dnieper.

18.  The Russian  Federation estimates that 3  million people still  live in
the territories  with a  radiation level  of more  than 5 curies  per square

C.  Chernobyl recovery-workers:  the "liquidators"

19.    Perhaps  the  group  most  at risk  from  its  exposure  to radiation
following  the explosion was  the group  involved in  extinguishing the fire
itself and  undertaking immediate recovery work.   They have become known as

the "liquidators".

20.  These men, drawn mainly from the  then Soviet army, including  civilian
ranks, were employed to prevent radiation  leaks from the destroyed  reactor
building, as well as to conduct  clean-up operations in highly  contaminated
territories  between 1986  and  1988.   The men  working inside  the reactor
building were  required  to  spend  no  more  than 90  seconds  there,  each
transporting a block of  cement or moving a lump of debris before  departing
as  quickly as  possible from  the vicinity  of  the reactor.   In  the time
since, these people have  dispersed across the former Soviet Union.  Much of
the registering  and tracing of their  whereabouts is  highly inaccurate, in
part because  of the  break-up  of the  Soviet Union  and subsequent  socio-
economic changes.  There  is even uncertainty as to how many participated in
the liquidation efforts.

21.   There are numerous  claims that many  have died as  a result of  their
exposure.  These  claims have so far not  been substantiated.  According  to
WHO,  however,  medical  monitoring of  the  liquidators  within  the  three
affected  countries  is  already  indicating   growing  morbidity  (illness,
disease, invalidity)  and mortality rates among this group.   A second phase
of the WHO  International Programme on the  Health Effects of the  Chernobyl
Accident (IPHECA)  will take a  closer look at the  registration and medical
care of  the  liquidators.    There are,  however,  few funds  available  to
accomplish this.

22.  WHO IPHECA  figures suggest that there are some 800,000 liquidators  in
total:   Ukraine  estimates it has  200,000 liquidators in  the country, the
Russian  Federation  estimates at  least 350,000,  and Belarus  some 130,000
liquidators, while the remainder have emigrated  to other countries or  have
not yet been registered.

23.  Health officials  have reported unanimously that those people who  were
exposed to radiation in the first days after the explosion  are at most risk
to their  health.   During  that  initial  period, iodine-131,  a  dangerous
radionuclide, was  present in  the atmosphere.   This  element is  the major
candidate  in explaining the  drastic increase  in thyroid  cancer as  it is
actively taken up  by the thyroid gland.  It  has a half-life of only  eight
days, however, and thus  would not have presented a danger thereafter.   The
main health  concerns for the  liquidators include  cardiovascular and heart
diseases,   lung  cancers,   gastrointestinal   inflammation,   tumours  and
leukaemia.   Stress and  anxiety about whether  they have  been affected may
also be  a significant  factor to  account for  the increase  in disease  in
addition to the liquidators' exposure to radiation itself.

24.   However, a  fundamental problem  is that the  countries concerned have
not been  able to  get all  the liquidators  to come  forward and  register.
Consequently,  a full  picture is  lacking  of  the health  consequences and
measures that Governments need to take.

25.    None   the  less,  it  is   estimated  by  a  major  non-governmental
organization,  the Chernobyl Union,  that in  the Russia  Federation, 10 per
cent of liquidators have become invalids (invalidity  is here defined as the
inability  to hold fulltime  employment); and  according to  the Ministry of
the Russian  Federation for  Civil Defence, Emergencies  and Elimination  of
Consequences  of  Natural Disasters,  38  per  cent of  Russian  liquidators
suffer from  some type of disease.   The Chernobyl  Union claims that  7,000
Russian  liquidators have  already  died  since  the accident  from  various
causes, including suicide.

D.  Increases in morbidity

26.   All  studies report  a growing  incidence  of  morbidity in  the three
affected countries, some of which is attributed to Chernobyl:   morbidity in
the most affected  regions appears to be higher  than in the three  affected
countries as a whole.

27.   The  Belarusian  Ministry  of Health  has  reported that  the  overall
morbidity  rate  in  the  Gomel  region  (the  southern  and  most  severely
contaminated part of Belarus) is now 51 per  cent.  Significant increases in
diseases registered in Gomel include lung  and stomach cancers and  problems
with the urinary system.

28.   According  to Ukrainian  sources, there  are 1,521  diseases per 1,000
people in  northern Ukraine,  while the  figure for  Ukraine as  a whole  is
1,118  per  1,000.  Cases  of  invalidity  are  263  per   1,000  among  the
liquidators,  while the  rate in  the country  as a  whole is  47 per  1,000
people:  in the Chernobyl-affected areas the rate  is six times as high.  As
a whole, according to Ukrainian Ministry  of Health officials, the morbidity
level  is 30  per  cent  higher  among  people  living in  the  contaminated
regions, taking into account age and working and living conditions.

 E.  Impact on children

29.   Children, especially  those born  between 1981 and 1987,  are the most
susceptible to  developing Chernobyl-related  diseases.   Both children  and
embryos exhibit a  particular sensitivity to the  effects of radiation.   Of
children's  diseases related  to Chernobyl,  thyroid cancers  have  seen the
sharpest increase  and are  of  the most  serious concern.   However,  other
diseases  are  also  expected  to  affect  children.    According  to UNICEF
studies,   they   could   include   immunological   deficiencies,   anaemia,
neurocirculatory  problems, respiratory  ailments, diseases  of  the stomach
and intestinal tract, and defects of  the cardiovascular system.   Leukaemia
has not so far shown any signs of increase.

30.  In  Ukraine, 2 million children out of  a total child population of  12
million  live  in  contaminated  zones  (5   curies  and  above  per  square
kilometre), while  900,000 of  these are  still living  in risk  zones.   In
Belarus, 500,000  children aged 14 years  and below live in the contaminated
zones out  of a  total population 14 years  and younger of 2.3  million.  In
the  Russian  Federation some  500,000  children  live  in the  contaminated

31.   UNICEF has  pointed out, however,  that it is  difficult to  ascertain
definitively  that the  children living  in  the  contaminated areas  have a
worse state of health  than children in other  parts of Belarus, as children
(and the rest of their families) from the most contaminated areas have  been
resettled to  other parts  of Belarus.   Consequently,  UNICEF has  assessed
global  statistics  for  Belarus  between  1990   and  1994  and  has  noted
significant  increases  in many  types  of  health  disorders  of the  child
population:    disorders of  the  nervous  system  and  sensory organs  have
increased  by 43  per cent,  blood  circulation  illnesses by  43 per  cent,
disorders of the digestive  organs by 28 per cent, disorders of the  genito-
urinary system by 39 per cent, disorders of  the bone, muscle and connective
tissue system by 62 per cent,  illnesses of the haemogenic  (bloodproducing)
organs by 24  per cent,  iron-deficiency anaemia by  10 per cent,  endocrine
system disorders by 8  per cent, diabetes by  28 per cent,  congenital heart
and circulatory  diseases by  25 per  cent and  malignant tumours by  38 per
cent since 1988.

F.  Incidence of thyroid cancer

32.    All  three  countries  have  experienced  dramatic  increases  in the
incidence  of  thyroid  cancer  in  children  and  this  increase  has  been
particularly severe in Belarus.

33.  While  Belarus registered only 21 cases  of surgery for thyroid  cancer
in children between 0-14  years of age between  1966 and 1985,  according to
Belarusian  authorities,  since  1986,  379  cases  have  been   registered,
according  to the combined figures of  Belarus and WHO.  The growth in cases
has continued to increase over recent years and  is thus consistent with the

cause being  Chernobyl,  there being  a  latency  period before  the  cancer
manifests  itself.  While  between  1986  and   1989  there  were  18   such
operations, the number  rose to 29 in  1990, 59 in 1991,  66 in 1992,  79 in
1993  and 82 in 1994, according to WHO. In the first half of 1995 there were
46 operations, according to Belarusian authorities.
  34.  While Ukraine registered only 25 cases  of surgery for thyroid cancer
in  children aged between  0-14 years  from 1981 and 1985,  according to WHO
208 cases  were  registered between  1986  and  1994.   When  examined  more
closely,  the  incidence  is  again  consistent  with  the  cause  being the
Chernobyl  accident:  while  between  1986  and  1989  there  were  34  such
operations, the  number rose to 26  in 1990, 22  in 1991, 47 in  1992, 42 in
1993 and 37 in 1994, according to WHO.

35.  While the Russian Federation registered a single case of child  thyroid
cancer  between 1986  and 1989,  WHO registered  23 cases  between 1990  and

G.  Incidence of stress-related illnesses

36.   According to UNICEF, at the  time of the accident, those most directly
affected  were  not  always informed  of the  possible  effects or,  in some
cases, even  of the occurrence of  the accident.   This lack of  information
or, in  some cases,  exposure to contradictory information,  the uncertainty
regarding present and future health effects  and the implications for future
generations and,  in some cases, the  stress of relocation  have all had  an
effect  on the  psychological  well-being  of the  populations  affected  by

37.  UNICEF has  reported that investigations show  that in Belarus,  62 per
cent of people surveyed  in the contaminated zones feel an elevated level of
anxiety, while  75 per cent  suffer from  a degree of depression  and 73 per
cent experience severe uneasiness.

38.   In Ukraine, UNESCO has  noticed similar trends.   In the  contaminated
zones  the divorce rate is higher, there are  more problems in relationships
between parent  and child, and  there is more  alcoholism compared with  the
levels  in a control  group from  non-contaminated areas.   Furthermore, the
social system is increasingly disintegrating as the young try to leave.

39.  According  to UNESCO  surveys, children  who live  in the  contaminated
zones in Ukraine  are considered to  have a  life expectancy  five to  seven
years  lower than children  surveyed from  non-contaminated areas.  Children
from the  contaminated  territories have  higher  anxiety  levels, they  are
concerned about their health  and the health of  their family, and  are more
introverted  than their  peers in  non-contaminated areas.    Interestingly,
however, children in the contaminated zones  are also higher achievers  than
others, as success in school is a means of leaving these zones.

H.  Potential for increase in other cancers and diseases

40.    Other  areas  of  concern  to  health  officials  include oncological
diseases,   endocrine   disorders,  leukaemia,   tuberculosis,   diphtheria,
cardiovascular  and   cardiological  problems,  lung  and  stomach  cancers,
haematology  problems, bone  marrow  diseases, in  utero  complications  and
urinary tract problems.  Although the  increased instance of these  diseases
cannot be directly linked with Chernobyl, health officials  point out that a
general deterioration of the immune system will lead to an increase of  such

 41.  The Belarusian  Ministry of Health has noted a general degradation  in
the immunological condition of its citizens.


A.  Economic hardship

42.  All three affected countries have economies  in transition from command
to market systems, while  the recovery and growth that certain other  former
communist  countries have  already experienced  has not  yet been  achieved.
The  shrinkage of  the  absolute size  of the  gross domestic  product (GDP)
continued throughout 1994 in all three countries.

43.   The Russian Federation's GDP was estimated by  the Economic Commission
forEurope (ECE) to have reduced by 16 per cent in 1994 from its 1993 level.

44.  Ukraine's  GDP fell by 25 per cent in 1994 compared  to 1993, according
to  the United  Nations Office at Kiev.   That followed decreases  of 14 per
cent in 1993  compared with 1992,  17 per  cent in 1992 compared  with 1991,
and  14 per cent in 1991 compared with 1990.   However, it was observed that
the  decline in  production  halted  late in  1994.   An  average salary  in
Ukraine in 1995 is estimated to be in the neighbourhood of $100 per month.

45.  Belarus' total  GDP in 1994 was  $4.3 billion.   That was a drop  of 20
per  cent compared  with 1993,  according to  the United  Nations  Office at
Minsk. Per  capita GDP in 1994  was $421.   An average salary  in Belarus in
1995 was estimated to be $70 per month.

46.   Faced with  having to  respond to the  most urgent needs  of displaced
persons, remedying  the health  needs  of liquidators,  children and  others
affected by Chernobyl and addressing the  environmental and economic impacts
of the  disaster at a  time when their  economies were  shrinking, the three
most affected  countries have been forced  to dedicate  enormous portions of
their  budgets  to   addressing  Chernobyl's  consequences.    Belarus   has
consistently had to spend 20 per cent of  its national budget for just  that
purpose.   Ukraine devotes 4  per cent of  its annual budget  to remedy  the
problems caused by Chernobyl, although it maintains it would require 20  per
cent of the national budget to rectify the  problems caused by the disaster.
The  Russian Federation  devotes  1  per cent  of its  budget  on Chernobyl-
related affairs.

B.  Environmental contamination and its implications

47.   Huge tracts of  formerly productive agricultural  and forest land have
been rendered uninhabitable and unusable for generations  as a result of the
Chernobyl disaster.   The  Chernobyl Committee of the  Belarusian Parliament
estimates that 30  per cent of the  country's 208,000 square kilometres  has
been contaminated to various degrees.   The Government of Ukraine  estimates
that 7 per  cent of its  600,000 square  kilometres, an  area equivalent  in
size  to the  Netherlands, has  been  rendered  unusable, and  the Ukrainian
Ministry for  Chernobyl further estimates  that 40 per  cent of  its forests
are contaminated.   The Russian  Federation estimates that  1.6 per cent  of
its  European territory,  or 57,650  square kilometres,  is  contaminated by
radioactivity of  more than 1 curie  of caesium per  square kilometre.   The
possibility  of  exploiting  these  lands  productively  has  been  severely
curtailed  and has had  a substantial impact  on the  economy, in particular
that of Belarus and Ukraine.

48.   Since the  economies of  these countries are not  expanding, there are
few, if any, opportunities  for gainful employment in the locations in which
the people  have resettled.  Faced  with such difficulties  in maintaining a
livelihood, many will do  whatever is necessary to survive, even if it means
spreading  radionuclide pollution.   Despite  laws against  such  practices,
people  still  living  near  the  Chernobyl power  plant  repeatedly  obtain
contaminated wood -  a major  repository for radionuclides  - for their  own
use or  to sell as building material or firewood.  It has also been reported
that  contaminated  food  has  been  exported  from  the  polluted  regions,
processed elsewhere  and reimported  as clean  food.   Such activities  have
contributed to  the continued  spread of  radionuclide contamination  across
the affected  countries  and have  increased  the  exposure of  the  general

population to the dangers of radioactivity.

49.   The  United Nations  Environment  Programme  (UNEP) has  reported that
contaminated forests  also constitute a  significant secondary  danger.   In
the hot summer period, particularly in  Belarus and the Russian  Federation,
which  possess large tracts  of forest  land, forest  fires released further
radionuclides into the atmosphere, spreading over vast areas of land.

50.   Perhaps most disturbingly,  however, in the face  of economic hardship
throughout  the Commonwealth  of Independent States (CIS),  people from even
poorer areas  of the  CIS have,  according to  UNESCO, moved  back into  the
contaminated  regions in  order to  receive  the  special state  benefits on

51.   This all contributes to  a widespread erosion of the  social fabric in
the  affected  countries.   All  that  could  preserve a  degree  of  social
cohesion  in  the  affected  countries,  even  in  times  of  adversity, has
steadily  disintegrated. Studies  by  UNESCO and  other  organizations  have
shown  how  children no  longer trust  their  parents  or teachers,  how the
professional workforce has  abandoned the  contaminated regions and how  the
lack  of adequate  social and  community  services has  exacerbated people's
profound disorientation and has left them feeling cast adrift.


52.     This   composite  picture   of  economic   hardship  compounded   by
environmental  devastation, and  of  social strife  compounded  by  economic
hardship, has drawn  only limited sympathy from the international community.
The desire  for hard  evidence before  action has  left the  victims of  the
Chernobyl  disaster waiting nearly  10 years,  and much  inaction has hidden
behind what will always remain unquantifiable.

53.   The  response of  the  international  community has  been particularly
inconsistent.   Large  disparities in  the  amount  and kind  of  assistance
offered by international  organizations, bilaterally and by non-governmental
organizations  have been recorded.  A handful of international organizations
and Member States  have, however,  been outstanding in providing  assistance
in their  chosen or designated  field of expertise.   The  United Nations is
particularly   grateful   for   those    bilateral   and    non-governmental
contributions  which have  constituted  the backbone  of  the  international
Chernobyl   effort  to  date.     (A   full  list   of  those  international
organizations,  Member  States  and   non-governmental  organizations  which
informed the Department of Humanitarian Affairs  of the Secretariat of their
activities related  to Chernobyl  is provided  in the  annex to the  present

54.   There  have  been repeated  expressions  of concern  in  the  affected
countries,  however, as  to the  imbalance between  research  activities and
tangible financial  and material assistance offered  to them  to assist them
in  their  recovery.   While  research  and  testing  to establish  accurate
scientific  knowledge and assessment  of the  radiation effects of Chernobyl
is the  cornerstone of  further work  both in  the scientific  field and  in
other areas, it should  not preclude the execution of practical projects  to
bring safety  and relief  assistance to  the 400,000  displaced persons  and
countless others who have been affected by Chernobyl.

55.   Activities undertaken  fall primarily  into four  categories:  health,
scientific  research, economic  development  and environmental  aid.    Many
countries  and  international  organizations  have  put  great  effort  into
studying the  fallout from the Chernobyl  disaster, mapping  its effects and
likely developments, creating action plans and  mechanisms for the  response
to  any  future  disaster, developing  practical  means  to  counteract  the
radiation effects  on the food  chain and  natural environment,  and so  on.
IAEA, the European Union (EU), the Food and Agriculture Organization of  the
United Nations  (FAO) and WHO  have been particularly active  in this field,

among others.

56.   The diagnosis and treatment of diseases  associated with the Chernobyl
disaster  and the  creation of  a  public  health infrastructure  capable of
tracking and  combating the future  development of Chernobyl-related  health
problems have  been pursued to the  extent that  contributions have allowed.
WHO  and  several  notable  donor  countries,  including  Austria,  Finland,
Germany,   Japan  and   Norway,   as  well   as   certain   non-governmental
organizations have  been particularly active  in addressing health  concerns
on the  ground.  There remain,  however, substantial  practical and material
requirements  before  the  health,  social  and  psychological  effects   of
Chernobyl can be effectively and widely addressed.

57.   Despite generous  grants from  the Japanese,  Finnish  and the  former
Czechoslovak Governments, which allowed the pilot  phase of the programme to
be  launched,  resources for  the  WHO IPHECA  are  almost exhausted.    The
Programme's pilot phase  came to a  close in  1994 and  there are almost  no
funds  remaining  to  put  into  operation  projects  such  as  the recovery
workers, dosimetry and thyroid projects.  Yet  these activities seek to help
the people in  the two most affected groups:   the liquidators and  children
with thyroid  cancer.   The third project  would allow  health officials  to
predict  more effectively  the  future impact  and  direction  of Chernobyl-
related diseases  by reconstructing the nature  of radiation doses  received
and their likely effects.

58.   The continuation  of the three  principle projects  within the  IPHECA
programme should be assured.  Many of the  hospitals in the three  countries
do not  have diagnostic  and adequate  treatment equipment  for cancers  and
other diseases  that may be associated  with Chernobyl.   Finally, medicines
are expensive and in short supply.  Belarus,  for example, estimates that it
has been able to  obtain only 40 per cent of the medicines required to treat
diseases related to Chernobyl.

59.   One of the most respected  and valued projects is the UNESCO community
development  centres  project,  which  deals  mainly  with  the  social  and
psychological  consequences of  the  catastrophe.   This  project  is  today
expanding, both in the  number of services rendered to the population and in
the  number of  the centres  operating in  each country,  with the  goal  of
integrating  Chernobylrelated  assistance  into the  sustainable development
strategies of the countries  concerned.  Most of  the operating costs of the
centres are, as originally intended, currently  borne by the three countries
concerned.  UNESCO (with  the support of the  United Nations Trust  Fund for
Chernobyl, UNICEF, the  Netherlands, and the non-governmental organizations,
Diakonie  and  CARITAS) will  provide  development  funds  for the  existing
centres until June 1996.

60.  Additional resources are, however,  required to establish new  centres,
for the development of  the new activities within the existing centres,  and
to assist  the three most affected  countries in  integrating the experience
gained  into their  long-term development  plans.   Furthermore,  UNESCO  is
actively working  on  twinning schemes  that will  ensure the  international
contacts of the centres in the future.

61.  If there were more money available  from international donors, the main
priorities, from  the United  Nations point of  view, should be  related to:
(a) health; (b) improvement  in giving information to  the population on the
consequences of the catastrophe; and (c)  the creation of additional  socio-
psychological support at the community level and in the schools.

62.    Given the  fact that  the  400,000 internally  displaced persons  are
unlikely to  return to  their homes,  every effort  should also  be made  to
ensure that there is adequate housing,  schools, job opportunities and other
infrastructural facilities in the towns to which they  have moved.  In  this
context,  the social  and economic  area  scheme  launched and  supported by
UNESCO  in  the  context  of  the  United  Nations  Inter-Agency  Task Force
deserves adequate support for its full  implementation.  The planning  phase

of the project is currently funded  by France, Denmark and EU  and should be
completed in 1996.

63.   Environmental  projects are  also  important  but should  not outweigh
those addressing the more immediate and  tangible human needs of maintaining
health standards and  treating diseases that arise  as a result of radiation
exposure.  Environmental  projects  that  bear  careful  study  and  perhaps
execution  are,   among  others,  devising   means  of  preventing   further
radionuclide  seepage from  the Chernobyl  sarcophagus  and into  the  water
table,  and from there  into the  River Dnieper and the  Black Sea; devising
means of  reducing the dangers from  and circulation  of radioactive timber,
reducing the level of radionuclide  contamination in agricultural lands; and
stabilizing  radioactive waste.    The UNESCO  Energy,  Development  and the
Environment  project  has   been  conceived  to  provide  a  blueprint   for
appropriate environmental education for the Chernobyl population.
  64.  IAEA  has a consistent  policy in the provision of  assistance to the
countries  still dealing with  the consequences  of the  Chernobyl accident.
This policy is to concentrate  the limited available resources to where they
can best be used,  such as in alleviating social and economic adversity, for
example,  in agricultural  communities.   Obstacles remain,  however, in the
effective use of international assistance, which  should be addressed by the
affected  countries themselves.    These include  inappropriate compensation
schemes  and equivocal  public information  about  the risk  from  radiation
exposure.   Addressing these  obstacles would  allow marked improvements  in
efficiency  by allowing existing  resources to  be concentrated  in areas of
real need.   Furthermore,  focusing efforts at  the national  level in  this
manner  would  be in  harmony with  the agreed  policy of  the Quadripartite
Committee for Coordination  on Chernobyl to target international  assistance
and  would  in   turn  improve  the   prospects  for  further  international
assistance.   IAEA  would be  willing  to  provide technical  assistance and
advice to  the relevant authorities upon their taking an  initiative of this

65.   Within the United Nations system, and in view of the extremely limited
resources available to it, projects to  regenerate economic activity  should
be  given a lower  priority.   The route  to regenerating  economic activity
cannot lie in using  such scarce means to  fund isolated projects or studies
of an  economic nature.   Rather,  the three  affected countries  themselves
should  address  more  fundamentally  the  issues  that  generate   economic
activity and growth.


66.  The main mechanism for  international coordination is the Quadripartite
Committee  for  Coordination on  Chernobyl,  which  consists of  the  United
Nations  Under-Secretary-General  for Humanitarian  Affairs,  acting  in his
capacity  as United  Nations  Coordinator of  International  Cooperation  on
Chernobyl, and  the ministers responsible  for Chernobyl-related affairs  in
the three  most affected  States.   The Committee meets  each year to:   (a)
assess  the   progress  of  the  international  response  to  the  Chernobyl
disaster;  (b) determine  what still needs  to be and  could be done  at the
international  level  to address  Chernobyl  problems;  and  (c)  coordinate
action based on the above conclusions.

67.   In recent  years the  annual Quadripartite Committee  meeting has been
expanded to include the participation of EU and  the agencies of the  United
Nations system  that are  members of  the United  Nations Inter-Agency  Task
Force  for  Chernobyl; UNICEF;  the  United  Nations  Development  Programme
(UNDP);  UNEP;   ECE;  the  United  Nations  Centre  for  Human  Settlements
(Habitat); the  International Labour  Office  (ILO); FAO;  UNESCO; WHO;  the
World  Meteorological  Organization  (WMO);  the United  Nations  Industrial
Development Organization  (UNIDO); and  IAEA.   These organizations  prepare
and  implement the various  assistance and  research projects  of the United
Nations system to combat the consequences of the Chernobyl accident.

68.    The  United   Nations  offices  at   Kiev,  Minsk  and  Moscow   have
responsibilities  for activities  related to  Chernobyl and  participate  in
coordination with the  national authorities  and institutions.   UNESCO  has
also established an office  at Kiev to coordinate activities related to  the
community development centres and to support  implementation of its 30 other
Chernobyl  projects that are  currently under  way.   Finally, under IPHECA,
WHO has established a project  office at Kiev for  the International Thyroid

69.  EU  has been particularly active  in addressing the Chernobyl  problem.
Its activities are  principally coordinated and  implemented by four offices
of the Commission of the European Communities:   (a) the Directorate of  G24
Nuclear  Safety, Industry  and the  Environment, Civil  Protection;  (b) the
Directorate   of  Nuclear   Safety,  both   within  Directorate-General   XI
(Environment, Nuclear  Safety and Civil  Protection); (c) the Directorate of
Research   and  Technical   Development,   within   Directorate-General  XII
(Science,  Research  and  Development);  and  (d)  the  European   Community
Humanitarian Office.

70.     Frequent  contact  in  the  past  two  years   has  facilitated  the
coordination  and  rationalization  of  projects  initiated  to  remedy  the
consequences  of Chernobyl. However, it has also  frequently highlighted the
fact that  a shortage of funds  continues to hinder  efforts to resolve  the
problem adequately.

71.    In November  1993,  a  meeting of  the  Quadripartite  Committee  was
convened  with the  expanded participation  of members  of the  Inter-Agency
Task  Force, representatives of  the principal  donor countries,  EU and the
World Bank.    This  was  envisaged  as  an opportunity  to  rekindle  donor
interest and to exchange views on country  policy with respect to  Chernobyl
and the  implementation of the United  Nations approach.   Although monetary
pledges were not made,  support for a continuing role of the United  Nations
as a  catalyst  for international  support was  affirmed and  a division  of
labour was outlined.

72.   An expanded  meeting of  the Quadripartite  Committee was  held on  19
September  1994;  the ministers  from Belarus,  the  Russian Federation  and
Ukraine pointed out  that international  attention to the Chernobyl  problem
had become weaker,  but the continued commitment  of EU, IAEA, UNESCO, UNIDO
and WHO was noted.

73.   It  was also  noted at  the meeting  that important WHO  projects were
being jeopardized  because of  lack  of financial  contributions from  donor
countries.    In  general, it  was stated  that  the financing  of Chernobyl
programmes in  the Russian Federation, Ukraine  and Belarus was  inadequate;
however, none  of the  States represented  at  the meeting  or other  donors
pledged greater support.  The three  ministers appealed to the international
community to provide further support to action on Chernobyl.

74.  The  Russian Federation  proposed at the  meeting of the  Quadripartite
Committee to  set up a significant  new initiative,  an International Centre
on Chernobyl.  The  activities of the Centre  would include the collation of
the   large  amount   of  research   undertaken  by   different   countries,
international  and  regional  organizations,  and  it  would  summarize  the
findings and  create a unified programme  of addressing  the consequences of
the Chernobyl accident.   However, significant work  still needs to be  done
on elaborating  the mandate, structure,  location, sources  of financing and
staffing for this body before a decision on its establishment can be taken.

 75.    In  view of  the  approaching  tenth anniversary  of  the  Chernobyl
accident on 26 April  1996, Belarus proposed a number of initiatives to mark
that date.   They included a symposium, Ten  Years After Chernobyl, and  the
presentation of commemorative  medals to the most prominent contributors  of
assistance to Chernobyl victims,  to be held in April 1996 at United Nations
Headquarters,  or at  the United  Nations  Office at  Geneva.   Belarus  was
willing to donate the cost of  producing these medals and of  hosting one of

the meetings of the  Inter-Agency Task Force on  Chernobyl, to be chaired by
the Secretary-General  of  the United  Nations.    Belarus also  wanted  the
responsibilities of  the United Nations offices  in the  three most affected
countries  to  be  widened to  include  Chernobyl-related  activities  in an
official manner.

76.   In January  1995 the  ministers charged with remedying  the effects of
the  Chernobyl disaster from  the three  republics most  affected - Belarus,
the Russian  Federation and Ukraine -  appealed to  the Secretary-General of
the  United Nations to  renew his  efforts to  bring international attention
and resources to fight  the consequences of Chernobyl.  They noted that,  as
the  tenth anniversary  of Chernobyl  approached,  the incidence  of disease
caused by the disaster had not yet reached its peak.

77.  The ministers recommended the following actions  as a means of  drawing
attention  to  and mobilizing  resources in  favour  of Chernobyl:   (a)  to
declare 26 April (the  anniversary of the disaster) a world day of  mourning
and remembrance of the  victims of the nuclear  disaster; (b) to  convene an
international   conference  sponsored   by  the   United  Nations   on   the
consequences of the accident  and their effect on the health of the  world's
population  and   environment,  and  on   the  expansion  of   international
cooperation;  (c)  to  appeal  to  potential  donor   countries  to  explore
possibilities  for increased  cooperation on  Chernobyl-related problems  on
both  a multilateral  and bilateral  basis,  and  on the  basis of  business
relations;  and (d)  to do  everything  possible  to ensure  that Chernobyl-
related problems  continued to receive the  attention of  the United Nations
and its  specialized agencies, Governments  and organizations of  individual

78.   In late June  and early July  1995 the  United Nations Coordinator for
International  Cooperation  on Chernobyl  visited  Minsk  and  the  affected
region  of Gomel,  in southern  Belarus, where  he saw  first-hand the  vast
extent of  the human  tragedy and upheaval  that the Chernobyl  disaster had
caused.   Particularly  impressive were  the  "dead"  regions that  had been
evacuated in  the wake of the  explosion and  in which there was  no sign of
human activity:  the area had become nothing  more than one vast  laboratory
for  studying  the  effects of  radiation  on  flora  and  fauna.    Equally
impressive  was  the  underfinanced,  overpopulated  children's  hospital in
which  almost all  of the  child thyroid  patients in Belarus  were treated.
The  children,  many  of  whom  have  had  their  thyroid  glands surgically
removed, will be dependent on medication for the rest of their lives.

79.  The United Nations Coordinator  is currently preparing another expanded
meeting of the Quadripartite  Committee to take place in autumn 1995 in  New
York.  The main  topics of  discussion  will  be determining  which priority
projects still needed to be executed  and the means required  for refocusing
public  interest and  donor attention  on Chernobyl,  with special attention
paid to  ways of  marking the  tenth anniversary  of Chernobyl  on 26  April

80.   Chernobyl remains  a humanitarian  tragedy of  international magnitude
that  can only be  addressed through  a strong  and consistent international
response. While at least 400,000 people have been  forced or have chosen  to
leave  their homes because  of radioactive contamination, health risks, both
physical and mental, continue to affect great numbers of people.

81.   Thyroid cancers  have shown  a marked increase in  the three countries
and their  incidence can be unequivocally  attributed to  radiation from the
Chernobyl    catastrophe.      Cardiovascular   and   heart   diseases   and
gastrointestinal inflammations  are also expected  to increase in  incidence
as a result of sustained,  elevated levels of stress  and anxiety associated
with the effects of the accident.  General  increases in morbidity, as  well
as  increases  in  immunological   deficiencies,  anaemia,  neurocirculatory
problems,  respiratory ailments,  diseases  of the  stomach  and  intestinal
tract and defects of the cardiovascular system, have already been noted.

82.   Environmental effects have been  equally catastrophic,  with over than
10 per cent of the total area of Belarus, 7 per cent of Ukraine and 1.6  per
cent  of  the  European  territory   of  the  Russian  Federation  currently

83.    The  response  of  the  international  community,  however,  has been
inconsistent throughout.  Certain  countries have given  generously and some
international organizations have been very active,  but the magnitude of the
health problem still  to be  tackled is  so great  that more  must be  done.
Public information  campaigns, environmental  education and  the development
of the UNESCO network  of community centres, as well as contributing to  the
democratic  mobilization  of  the  population  in  the  economic  and social
development  of the  affected  zones,  will  be  of  key importance  to  the
successful  management of  the catastrophe.   Most  importantly,  Chernobyl-
related  assistance must  be  integrated into  the  sustainable  development
strategies of the three countries concerned.

84.   A  concerted  effort needs  to  be  made  to alert  the  international
community  and in particular  donors to  the fact that Chernobyl  is still a
major humanitarian  tragedy  and that  the  magnitude  of its  effects  will
continue  to  grow  over the  next  10  years.    The  tenth anniversary  of
Chernobyl on  26 April  1996 offers  an excellent  opportunity to  galvanize
widespread  media   interest  in   the  problem.     Several   international
organizations, led by EU, IAEA and  WHO, are already planning  international
conferences to mark the occasion.  However, in view  of the magnitude of the
problem and lack of international donor response, more will need to be  done
to focus  the attention  of the world  on the gravity  of the problem.   The
expanded  meeting  of  the  Quadripartite  Committee  in  autumn  1995  must
consequently agree on concrete steps  to take to mark  the tenth anniversary
in a  manner  not simply  of  remembrance,  but  to encourage  generous  and
tangible assistance measures.

85.  The resources available in the United  Nations Trust Fund for Chernobyl
have  been exhausted  and  without  further support  from the  international
community, the United Nations efforts will simply cease, at a time when  the
years of study that have  gone before have finally begun to reveal that  the
apprehensions expressed  were valid  and to  confirm a  devastation that  is
both  real  and  long  term.    The  international  community  cannot remain
indifferent  to  the  plight  of  the  Chernobyl  victims  and  must provide
assistance, both financial and in  kind, to ensure that  the consequences of
this disaster are addressed.

86.   In addressing  the consequences of  the disaster,  donors must  ensure
that  they  target  the  most  essential issues,  as  the  benefits  of  any
intervention will be lessened  if the net  is cast too wide.  A  limited but
effective range of  practical, health-related projects should receive  first
priority.   Healthrelated  projects should  endeavour to  isolate, treat and
reduce  illnesses associated  with the  Chernobyl accident,  whether  caused
directly  by radiation or  by the  profound stress and the  anxiety that has
characterized life over the  past 10 years in the affected countries.   This
will involve  epidemiology and  diagnosis, the provision and  maintenance of
adequate equipment,  medicine and  treatment facilities,  and programmes  to
address stress and its ramifications.

87.  Economic projects  should focus on  creating a full legal framework  to
encourage  and protect  foreign investment,  and in  providing the necessary
supporting infrastructure  to ensure a lasting  impact.  An  example of what
can  be achieved in  the economic  field in  terms of  regenerating economic
activity given the right infrastructure and  adequate support is the  UNESCO
economic and social area development at Gagarin.

88.   The expanded Quadripartite Committee  meeting to be  held in New  York
will  be an important  opportunity for donors  to be  informed first-hand by
the  Chernobyl ministers of the  three affected countries on  the nature and
extent of the  problem still facing their countries.   It will also  provide
an  occasion   for  renewing  support   and  making   pledges  or  financial

contributions,  whether  to  the  Trust  Fund  for  Chernobyl,  directly  to
implementing  agencies of the  system that  are members  of the Inter-Agency
Task  Force  for Chernobyl,  or  indeed  bilaterally, for  the international
community  to combat  decisively  this severe  and  persistent  humanitarian


              International organizations, Member States and other
              organizations from which the United Nations received
information on Chernobyl activities


Department  for   Development  Support  and   Management  Services  of   the

Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)

Economic Commission for Europe (ECE)

Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)

Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

World Food Programme (WFP)

International Labour Organization (ILO)

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

World Health Organization (WHO)

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

European Union (EU)

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)











Russian Federation

Syrian Arab Republic



Chernobyl Help

The Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation



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Date last posted: 18 December 1999 16:30:10
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