April 26th, 2007 10:13 EST
21 years since Chernobyl, world cannot forget loss and pain
On the 21st anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, the worst nuclear power plant accident in history, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said that although the world should never forget the loss and pain caused by the tragic incident, it is imperative to move forward.
Mr. Ban paid tribute to the hundreds of emergency workers who risked their lives to respond to the accident, the thousands who worked to build a shelter around the damaged reactor, the over 330,000 who were displaced from their homes, the 5,000 children stricken with cancer and the millions left traumatized and deeply worried about their health and livelihoods.
In 1986, explosions destroyed Chernobyl’s Unit 4 reactor core, sending a cloud of radionuclides over parts of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.
“While paying respect to the past, we need to take stock of the present and look ahead to the future,” he said in a statement issued by his spokesperson.
Given that science points to the possibility of a return to normal life for people living in regions affected by the disaster, Mr. Ban called for sustainable social and economic development, the creation of new jobs, an influx of investment and the reinstatement of a sense of self-sufficiency.
“The communities affected by Chernobyl have shown great resilience in coping with a disaster of tremendous magnitude,” he noted, urging the “international community to do its part in helping them to bring a region so rich in history and potential fully back to life.”
Mr. Ban also said that he was glad that Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova has agreed to take on the role of Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Development Programme (UNDP) so that she can give a global voice to the recovery efforts underway at Chernobyl.