Helen Clark Opens UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Chernobyl in Minsk

30 May 2014

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UNDP Administrator Helen Clark today opened the United Nations Inter–Agency Task Force on Chernobyl, a body which brings together UN agencies, the Governments of Belarus, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine and other international partners to discuss progress in tackling the Chernobyl legacy and the response priorities.

28 years after the Chernobyl tragedy, there is still a need to continue assistance to the affected communities. Several UN projects – principally by UNDP, UNICEF and WHO, are active in affected areas and concentrate on community development, and health and environment.

“More than 28 years after the disaster, the impact on the communities is still visible”, said Helen Clark, who, the previous day, had visited Homiel, the region of Belarus most affected by the disaster. “But I was equally impressed by the recovery efforts undertaken by the government and the determination of the people in affected communities to bring life in the region back to normal”, she said.

In December 2013 the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution requesting UNDP to continue coordinating the UN Inter–Agency Taskforce on Chernobyl. The body is tasked with implementing the Decade of Sustainable Development of Chernobyl–affected regions, and with keeping the post–Chernobyl recovery issue high on the interagency and international agenda. 

With these projects, the UN assists the affected communities to overcome various health, social, environmental and economic problems posed by the disaster and overall help local communities to reduce their vulnerability to disasters.

Although the implemented activities have laid the groundwork for further sustainable development efforts in the affected territories, the UN system in Ukraine remains committed to help in overcoming the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. This remains a priority of the state policy as well as an area of UN support. 

In the coming years, UN activities in Chernobyl affected areas will focus especially on the enhancement of human security, health and development, support to affected groups, including socio-psychological rehabilitation and raising awareness on the effects of radiation among population and local communities, as well as ensuring health and environmental monitoring and community mobilization.

Today’s meeting is an annual event and has been chaired by the UNDP Administrator. For the first time it is being held in one of the countries affected by the 1986 nuclear power plant disaster, which took place in Chernobyl, Ukraine. The accident resulted in the displacement of large numbers of people from the immediate surroundings of the plant, which neighbours Belarus, and leading to very significant health impacts.

The purpose of the current meeting is to initiate a dialogue on what should follow the expiry of the current UN Action Plan on Chernobyl in 2016, and to see how the experiences of the Chernobyl recovery can be used for future disaster–related activities.

“UNDP has considerable experience in helping to build national capacities to mitigate the effects of disaster, and this experience can also be applied to help governments better prepare to deal with the human consequences of emergencies caused by exposure to radiation”, said Helen Clark.