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About Chernobyl


On April 26, 1986 at 1.23 am technicians at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station in the Ukraine allowed the power in the fourth reactor to fall as part of a controlled experiment. To carry out their tests, they deactivated several major safety systems that would have shut down the reactor in case of accident.


The experiment went wrong. Two explosions blew the top off the reactor building and a fire started in the core which burned for several days. A cloud of deadly radio activity dispersed into the surrounding environment. This silent killer continued to pour from the damaged reactor for ten days.


Children are particularly susceptible to radiation induced illnesses and many have leukaemia, cancer of the thyroid and other cancers. Babies are still being born with serious deformities such as no arms, no eyes or tumours.


Chernobyl Children Life Line looks after children who are ill, organising visits to Great Britain to give them a chance to live in a ‘clean’ environment and eat uncontaminated foods for a month. Some 40,000 children from Belarus have visited Britain since 1992.  Many of the families keep in touch with the children and some invite them for return visits each year. The children have medical attention such as dental care and having their eyes tested. It costs approx. GBP270 (pounds sterling (due to fluctuating airport taxes)) to bring each child to the United Kingdom. The children’s charity always pays for the travel costs of the first visit, from then on the host  family pays if they want the same child to return in the future.


The Chernobyl nuclear accident was the biggest nuclear accident ever. The wind carried the radiation cloud north over Belarus where 70% of the radiation fell. The ground was heavily contaminated and will continue to be for thousands of years. It is more than 21 years since the accident, but it is not over, in fact it is getting worse. The people live with radiation all around them. They drink contaminated water and wash with it. There is very little food in Belarus and what there is, has a high chance of being contaminated. Many people are close to starvation with only boiled potatoes to eat.


Life is hard in Belarus and inflation is out of control. Doctors are paid the equivalent of USD20 (U.S. Dollars) per month. An airline pilot USD80 per month. A Christmas tree costs GBP100!


The people of Belarus are charming and hospitable. The children are happy and well looked after.  Many children are in orphanages where brothers and sisters in different age groups cannot be together. Foster homes are now being built to provide a home where all the children from one family can live together.



  • Only 5% of children in the Chernobyl region are left healthy.

  • Population dropped from 11 million to 9.5 million