New York

26 April 2012

Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on the 26th anniversary of the Chernobyl Disaster

Today marks the 26th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, the worst nuclear power plant accident in history. On this occasion, we remember the hundreds of emergency workers who risked their lives in responding to the accident; the more than 330,000 people who were evacuated from surrounding areas with little hope of return; the thousands of children who later contracted thyroid cancer; and the six million people still living in the affected areas of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.
As we pay our respects to the past, we also need to take stock and look ahead. The United Nations is fully committed to the Decade of Recovery and Sustainable Development proclaimed by the General Assembly for 2006-2016, and to the UN Action Plan on Chernobyl, which contains a declaration of principles embraced by all UN agencies involved in recovery efforts. The Action Plan emphasizes social and economic development and the promotion of healthy lifestyles and community self-reliance. In the remaining years of the Decade, the focus will be on helping the targeted communities adapt to the conditions in which they are living.
One year ago, the Secretary-General visited the Chernobyl site and saw first hand the great resilience being demonstrated by the affected people.  At the Kiev Summit on Safe and Innovative Use of Nuclear Energy, the international community highlighted the importance of strengthening the global nuclear safety regime.  The urgency of that work was underscored by the nuclear accident in Fukushima nuclear power plant last year. The Seoul Nuclear Security Summit also recognized the need to increase synergy between nuclear safety and nuclear security.
The Secretary-General calls again on the international community to generously support Chernobyl-affected regions as they continue their longstanding efforts towards recovery and normalcy.