Charity welcomes Chernobyl representations

The Chernobyl Children's Project International (CCPI) has welcomed representations made this week by Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheal Martin after Belarus imposed travel restrictions on children from the Chernobyl regions.

The restrictions were imposed last month after a 16 year-old girl from Belarus failed to return from a visit to the US in August.

The CCPI voiced concerns earlier this week that the ban would apply to children that travel to Ireland from the Chernobyl disaster affected-area every year for holidays and medical attention.

Talks were held in Dublin on Thursday between Minister Martin and Mr Valery Kurdyukov, a senior official at the Belarus embassy in London, to discuss whether children could travel to Ireland for medical treatment and rest and recuperation.

"Both sides now have a clear understanding of what is required and the Minister has indicated to the Charge that Ireland aims to satisfy Belarusian concerns in regard to the visits," a spokesperson for Mr Martin said yesterday.

The spokesperson also said that the Minister was confident that negotiations on an inter-Governmental treaty with Belarus that would allow children to travel abroad "will come to a satisfactory conclusion."

CCPI chief executive Adi Roche said yesterday: "I cannot thank Minister Martin and his officials enough for working non-stop to have the ban reversed and put an Inter-governmental Agreement document on the table.

We are so proud of the Irish people who have acted with one voice to have the ban on children's travel lifted."

The CCPI has brought more than 17,000 children to Ireland for treatment and recuperation since 1991.



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