Fresh effort to lift Chernobyl children ban

Efforts are to be stepped up this week to get the government of Belarus to lift its ban on children affected by the Chernobyl nuclear accident travelling to Ireland.

The Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin will this morning meet the CEO of the Chernobyl Children's Project International, Adi Roche, to discuss the embargo.

More than a thousand children from Belarus travel to Ireland each year to holiday with host families and to be seen by medical specialists.

So far the government of Belarus has given no formal explanation for the ban, but it may be linked to an incident in the US this summer when a 16-year-old girl refused to board a return flight.

The ban may also be linked to the fact that the Government here has so far failed to sign a bi-lateral agreement which the Belarussian authorities sought over a year ago.

The agreement would formalise the legal basis for the visits and set out how they are to be supervised in future.

Adi Roche says she will be urging Micheal Martin to give serious consideration to signing the accord. So far Italy is the only country in Europe that has done so.

Later this week there are to be further talks in Dublin and in the Belarusian capital Minsk to try to break the deadlock.



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